Mangroves: At the Juncture of Land and Sea

American Forests, Summer 2016 | Go to article overview

Mangroves: At the Juncture of Land and Sea


PARTNERS SINCE 2009, American Forests' and Origins' work together has covered a variety of U.S. and international landscapes, with an eye to restoring wildlife habitat and forests damaged by wildfire.

Monarch butterflies, Rutland's warbler and moose are among the wildlife beneficiaries of restoration projects that Origins has supported. But, another exceptionally important wildlife habitat restoration has aided less famously charismatic recipients.

In 2015, Origins supported mangrove restoration in China as well as similar work the year before in the Phillipines. Within 50 years, China lost nearly three-quarters of its mangrove forests. In the last 20 years, the Phillipines has lost one-third of theirs. Pressures on mangrove forests come from all angles. More than one-third of the world's mangroves are believed to have disappeared between 1980 and 2000, mostly due to the rise of industrial shrimp farming and coastal development. Yet, mangroves are critical to both land and sea, to the foundation of marine life that supports the health of the oceans and to the food chain that delivers fish to our tables.

Growing along coastlines within 30 degrees of the equator, mangroves' extraordinary stilt-like root systems allow the trees to grow in the sea and also serve as nurseries for fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs and other marine life. Their branches offer habitat for birds, monkeys and pollinators such as bees. Like other types of wetlands, mangroves also slow runoff coming from the land. …

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