State of the World’s Mangroves 2021

The Global Mangrove Alliance’s recent report on the State of the World’s mangroves served as a call to action for mangrove conservation and restoration projects.  Although many of the trends centered around mangroves have looked bleak, new research shows that these areas are highly restorable meaning quick action can have significant, positive effects.

Global Mangroves

Mangroves are vital ecosystems providing coastal defense against sea level rise and worsening storms, creating critical habitats including nursery and breeding grounds, and can serve as carbon sinks making them a vital link in achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.  It is estimated that nearly 15% of the world’s mangroves can be found between North and South America, mostly within the Caribbean. Unfortunately, many of the world’s mangroves have been lost or are severely degraded due to coastal development, the expansion of shrimp farming and human pollution.

Red Mangrove. Photo credit: Christian König

Luckily the Global Mangrove Alliance has been tracking the state of the world’s mangroves since it’s creation in 2018.  Through influencing local policies and public awareness on the importance of these habitats, there has already been some improvements in trends.  Overall, they found that the rate of mangrove loss has slowed worldwide since 2016. Furthermore, nearly 42% of all remaining mangroves are within protected areas. A number of recent projects have also demonstrated that mangrove area loss is highly restorable, meaning it’s not too late to save these critical ecosystems.

Dutch Caribbean Mangroves

Within the Dutch Caribbean, four of the islands have mangrove forests: St. Maarten, Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire.  Of these, Bonaire has the largest of the mangrove forests, of which, nearly all fall within the designated National Marine Park. STINAPA along with other local NGOs have been diligently working to restore these mangrove areas. In fact, one of these restoration projects recently received international recognition with an IUCN BEST 2.0+ grant which funds restoration, reforestation, and scientific monitoring efforts on Bonaire through February 2023.  Additionally, groups such as the Mangrove Maniacs dedicate countless volunteer hours maintaining important water circulation channels to ensure the mangroves of Lac Bay stay healthy and thriving.

Call to Action

Red Mangrove. Photo credit: Marjolijn Lopes Cardozo

There is an urgent need to understand the extent of local mangrove areas and preserve and restore where possible. Governments need to include mangrove management into policy and planning. The private sector can benefit by recognizing mangroves as an investment opportunity, through options such as carbon markets, blue bonds and insurance-based investments. NGO’s and local groups can work to increase awareness and spearhead projects.  Academia and research communities can prioritize projects which help improve available data and modeling tools. Lastly, you, the individual can be involved by advocating for mangroves by spreading knowledge and looking for opportunities to get involved.

Want to get involved?

This Sunday, October 3rd, the Mangrove Maniacs of Bonaire will be hosting a mangrove outplanting event.  Volunteers will be planting mangroves along the southern coast to increase the natural mangrove fringing forest of this area.  These fringing forests are vital for minimizing coastal erosion and serving to protect this area from increased storm activity. Learn more by following along on the Mangrove Maniacs’ Facebook page.

You can find a link to the full State of the World’s Mangroves using the DCBD button below.


Article published in BioNews 47


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