It is now important for the two counties to work jointly on developing and applying professional transboundary mangrove management plans.”. THREATS TO MANGROVES. River changes: Dams and irrigation reduce the amount of water reaching mangrove forests, changing the salinity level of water in the forest. However, due to endemic corruption in Southeast Asia, the creation of a protected area does not necessarily mean all illegal activity will stop. It examined the effectiveness of Thailand’s biosphere reserve and what lessons can be applied to Myanmar’s mangroves, with officials from the latter country expected to push for more protection of these areas as a result. Charlotte Nivollet, Southeast Asia regional director at the Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity (GERES), said that historically the delta was a major charcoal production area. The future is not entirely bleak. “Illegal logging in mangrove forests and wetlands is not a big problem in Vietnam at the moment.”. The warning comes in a study published today (18 July) by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which says some of the region’s islands could lose half of their mangroves by 2100. UNESCO hopes to test this system in Myanmar, the Philippines and Australia in the future before expanding it further. If anything, mangroves are set to become even more ecologically important than they already are as the climate continues to change worldwide. Photo by Michael Tatarski for Mongabay. Where mangroves are sheltered by coral reefs killed by climate change, damage to mangroves from increased wave action is expected to rise. 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Various stakeholders, including governments and NGOs, have been working on the conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems for years, yet with mixed results. “In recent years the biggest regional threats to mangroves are the ever-increasing development of the tourism industry, pollution from runoff of fertilizers and pesticides, and improper disposal of wastes. However, this was not all positive news. “It’s very challenging to find the way to make it profitable to produce sustainable, legal charcoal.”. Such a development is still in the very early stages, however. By protecting mangroves, we can help protect the future of our planet. The implications of species-specific sediment capture on forest diversity was quite unexpected for us.”. They support local livelihoods through fishing and the collection of fuelwood (albeit often illegally), act as nurseries for fish to sustain coastal fishing communities, and excel at storing carbon. “Future management strategies need to weigh the loss of coastal mangroves and their inherent functions such as coastal protection and biodiversity conservation with the costs of mitigation strategies as restoring sediment delivery to coasts or providing upland accommodation space, which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.” “Then, the Myanmarese would also have to decide if and how they would protect their natural mangrove systems, which are very vast,” Böer said. They can then sell the wood to registered, fully legal charcoal producers, thus regulating and legally enforcing a trade that GERES estimates is worth $100 million annually. You can either try to restore the sediment sources, for example, removing a dam upstream, or you need to make sure mangroves have enough space to transgress upland/landward with rising sea levels if you want to conserve these systems,” said Schwarz. They are a natural coastal defence. According to UNESCO, within the Greater Mekong region, Myanmar contains the largest area of mangroves, covering 5,030 square kilometers (1,942 square miles), followed by Thailand with 2,484 square kilometers (959 square miles), Vietnam with 1,057 square kilometers (408 square miles), and Cambodia with 728 square kilometers (281 square miles). Office of Communications & Marketing After 2025, the future of mangroves will depend on technological and ecological advances in multi-species silviculture, genetics, and forestry modeling, but the greatest hope for their future is for a reduction in human population growth. Myanmar features a mangrove forest in the area between Kawthaung and Myeik, north of Ranong. Last year a Myanmar Times investigation found that charcoal production was on the rise in Myeik, with the product being shipped to cities in Myanmar, as well as illegally exported to Thailand in unrecorded quantities. Continued agricultural expansion for rice in Myanmar and conversion of mangroves into oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia, may spell danger for the mangrove ecosystems in Southeast Asia in the near future. Mangroves are under threat globally due to land conversion, overexploitation, and other human-induced stressors. He stresses this model was developed to investigate how the interaction between multiple mangrove species and different environmental conditions shape diversity and vulnerability under different sea level rise and sediment conditions.Â, Looking at interactions between assemblages of mangrove species that live in the lower, middle and upper intertidal area, as well as water and sedimentary interactions and how the coastal profile evolves over time, the researchers chose three specific species of mangroves for their study: Rhizophora mangle, Avicennia germinans and Laguncularia racemose. Sindh’s mangrove forests, which thrve in the mingled salt and freshwater of the Indus Delta, are threatened by pollution, exploitation by the area’s communities and coastal development projects. Photo by Ann Wang for Mongabay. Reforestation of mangrove species, banning on illegal charcoal production and deactivation of non-profitable aquaculture ponds are some of the key factors that are believed to have caused a reduction in mangrove loss in recent years in Cambodia. Since then, a third of that tree cover has been lost. Mangroves can survive such conditions while also serving as an incubator for shrimp and fish farms which can be destructive when not managed properly – which are key to the region’s aquaculture industry. However, climate change poses a large threat to mangroves, according to recent findings from a World Bank Group working paper. These three species represent the lower, middle and upper intertidal mangroves and thrive at different elevations.Â. Photos by Barend van Maanen This book focuses on the worldwide threats to mangrove forests and the management solutions currently being used to counteract those hazards. “Under the seawater we put an air bubble, which allows the mangroves to float on the ocean surface.”. With their dense network of roots and … FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this article. “There are many regulations, everything is clear on paper, but in fact it has never been implemented by anyone. Because mangrove trees cannot survive if they are underwater for too long, however, the combination of sea-level rise and the decreasing mud supply from rivers poses a serious threat. He added: “It would be in the best interest of nature conservation, but also nature conservation for the people who are living there. In the absence of a human-made tidal barrier, however, mangrove species can remain stable if sufficient landward habitat is available. Mangroves, highlighted in green above, stretch from eastern India to southwestern Bangladesh. Now, most charcoal production in Cambodia takes place in the Cardamom Mountains, along the country’s border with Thailand. Rising sea levels and changing salinity pose the most serious threats to these ecosystems. natural threats to mangroves. Both Thailand and Myanmar have experienced devastating flooding in recent years thanks to extreme rain events and storms. Poorer Myanmar and Cambodia, on the other hand, have not electrified all of their territory. It was also shown that if sediment supply is low, even slow rates of sea level rise could lead to mangrove forest retreat underlying the importance of sediment supply. While there is a long way to go in terms of achieving these goals, starting at the first step of creating actual legal documents, and similar regulatory issues exist in every Greater Mekong country, GERES’s strategy points to one way toward better forest management. The first step would be to create the actual documents needed to comply with these regulations. As sea levels rise and mangroves want to retreat landward, their retreat can be blocked by urbanization and human-made structures, such as dams or other constructed flood protection works. Vietnam, for example, faces threats from both rising sea levels and more frequent typhoons. Future threats to mangrove forests. Loss of biodiversity is, and will continue to be, a severe problem as even pristine mangroves are species-poor compared with other tropical ecosystems. Christian Schwarz, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware, is a part of the international research team together with Utrecht University and the University of Exeter which developed the computer model. Article by Adam Thomas “But mangrove forests, in particular, serve a variety of functions that are underappreciated and that are disproportionately important both to local communities and at the global scale.”. Future of Mangroves Abhijit Mitra* Department of Marine Science, University of Calcutta, India A vast majority of the human population in the Planet Earth lives in the coastal zone and local resources like mangroves are the primary sources of their livelihood. Urbanization, land use changes and agribusiness such as palm oil and rubber have devastated forests, along with the wildlife species which rely on them for habitat. “Forests in general tend to be underappreciated for the many contributions that they make to human well-being across scales,” said Frances Seymour, a distinguished senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, via Skype. Böer said he recently visited Ranong and Myeik along with experts and policymakers from Myanmar, Thailand and international conservation organizations. Research is also underway to determine the financial costs and scalability of floating mangroves. Based on available evidence, of all the climate change outcomes, relative sea-level rise may be the greatest threat to mangroves. This reduction in sediment delivery to the more landward mangrove species makes them incapable to capture sediment, build up with sea levels rise and makes them vulnerable to be replaced by species who are adapted to being underwater for longer periods of time — as the roots of the more seaward mangroves catch the sediment but still let the water through, flooding the higher intertidal mangroves. This is important because it shows that mangrove coverage can increase despite sea level rise if the sediment supply is sufficient and landward accommodation space is available. “Some years ago we developed a system to grow mangroves in a sand-filled container with a semi-permeable membrane underneath which allows seawater to penetrate, but the sand does not fall out of the container,” he said. We don’t want to damage the people who are living on charcoal production.”. The Greater Mekong is also home to one of the world’s major mangrove forest distributions, along with Central America and the southern United States, as well as the coastal tropics of West and East Africa. Nivollet’s vision is for people living in community forest areas to produce firewood through sustainable forest management practices. But the mangroves are also increasingly threatened. 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According to the WWF, more than 2,200 new vertebrate and vascular plant species have been discovered in the region since 1997. An example of what is lost when mangroves are deforested can be found in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta. Post navigation ← Previous News And Events Posted on December 2, 2020 by One of the novelties of this study is that there hasn’t been much research on mangrove diversity and how the different species react to different environmental conditions brought on by sea level rise. However, this has pushed charcoal production across the border into Myanmar. “Several years ago, Vietnam began carrying out several programs for the rehabilitation of mangroves for coastal protection, while at the same time improving awareness among local people,” Pham Trong Thinh, director of the Southern Sub-Forest Inventory and Planning Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, said in an email. “In these endangered areas where the worst conditions for mangroves exist, you only have two options to preserve them. Human populations and urban areas are concentrated on coastlines, displacing native vegetation. The study tour was put together by the Manfred Hermsen Stiftung Foundation, Fauna and Flora International, UNESCO and the Mangrove Action Project. HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — While Southeast Asia is known as one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions, home to booming metropolises like Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur, it also hosts some of the planet’s most vital ecological areas. And rapid urbanization continues to threaten them. Newark, DE 19716 You can find him on Twitter at @miketatarski.Â. Newark, DE 19716, A new study published in Environmental Research Letters, University of Delaware Newark, DE 19716 USA. Mangroves represent a type of tropical or subtropical forest with a singular capacity to withstand large short-term changes in salinity and to buffer the inland impact of ocean water storm surges. Under these conditions, the mangrove forests were able to expand seaward, colonizing elevated mudflats while experiencing little stress from human-made barriers, which was also true when the sea level rise was low and the sediment inputs were low. [HANOI] Rising sea levels linked to global warming threaten economically, ecologically and culturally important mangrove forests in Pacific island states. Even the forestry administration people have no idea how to respect the law, so of course they can’t enforce it.”.  Oil spills cause damage to mangroves by coating roots, limiting the transport of oxygen to underground roots. Another third is expected to disappear by 2030. The problem they are encountering is that applying to become a legal producer involves paying numerous royalties, fees and permit costs, disincentivizing the process of becoming legitimate. This picture was taken from the Firth of Thames, in New Zealand. Hundreds of thousands of acres of lush wetlands have been cleared to make room for artificial ponds that are densely stocked with shrimp. Designed for the professional or specialist in marine science, coastal zone management, biology, and related disciplines, this work will appeal to those not only working to protect mangrove forests, but also the surrounding coastal areas of all types. November 13, 2020. She and her team hope to create a sustainable charcoal value chain in line with regulations. “The effects of Nargis were even worse thanks to the fact there wasn’t much mangrove already, and it destroyed the rest,” Nivollet added. Every day, Mongabay reporters bring you news from nature’s frontline. Though the Can Gio Biosphere Reserve is located within the limits of fast-growing Ho Chi Minh City, it has thus far been spared from the city’s rapid urbanization. Most mangrove sediment surface elevations are not keeping pace … “The cutting of mangrove forests and converting the wood into charcoal is an issue,” Böer said. If salinity becomes too high, the mangroves cannot survive. The 300-square kilometer (116-square-mile) Ranong Biosphere Reserve is in Thailand, just below Myanmar’s southern tip on the Kra Isthumus. Myanmar, for its part, is considering establishing a conservation area around the mangroves near Myeik, whether that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a geopark or a RAMSAR Wetland Conservation site. While harvesting has taken place for centuries, in some parts of the world it is no longer sustainable, threatening the future of the forests. Designed for the professional or specialist in marine science, coastal zone management, biology, and related disciplines, this work will appeal to those not only working to protect mangrove forests, but also the surrounding coastal areas of all types. As well as direct impacts from human activity mangroves may also be under threat from global warming (Field, 1995) this is especially significant for mangroves, their intertidal location means they are likely to be one of the first habitats to be affected by a rise in sea level. “This seems to be decreasing a lot simply because there is no more mangrove,” Nivollet said by phone from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mangrove forests, found around tropical and subtropical shorelines, provide a multitude of environmental and economic benefits to coastal systems around the world. The number of rehabilitation and “We want to suggest the establishment of floating artificial mangroves so that people can be encouraged to use these mangroves for the legal harvest of [fuel wood from] artificially produced mangroves, and then that can turn away from the illegal production of charcoal in natural mangroves,” Böer said. The Greater Mekong, which includes Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, is key to this environmental vitality. greatest threats, with lesser problems being alteration of hydrology, pollution and global warming. Causing tremendous damage to mangroves, herbicides, oil spills, and other types of water pollution may result in the death of these plants. Overall, Schwarz said that it will be important in future studies to examine the role of the different species-specific responses to mangrove forest loss in order to evaluate the future extent and diversity of mangrove forests and to help protect these vulnerable ecosystems. The simulations include interactions among tides, mud transport and, for the first time, multiple mangrove species. In southern Vietnam, the 750-square kilometer (290-square-mile) Can Gio Biosphere Reserve lies outside Ho Chi Minh City. Major tourism developments have been proposed on its fringes, but as of now it provides a striking green contrast to the nearby urban sprawl on satellite images. Why Now? Mangroves can withstand flooding by tides and capture sediment to raise the soil in which they grow, but the trees cannot survive if they are underwater for too long, which is why the combination of sea level rise and the lowering sediment supply from rivers pose a serious threat. In coastal areas with sufficient sediment availability, mangroves may be able to expand despite sea-level rise. Mangroves are very susceptible to herbicides as demonstrated in South Vietnam by the U.S. military by the defoliation and destruction of over 250,000 acres (1,012 square kilometers) of mangroves. Mangroves were replanted in this area, and the specialists on the trip found that the forests have recovered well, at least in terms of biomass. 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