Studies have shown that mangroves provide approximately $2.7 trillion in ecosystem services every year. Now, a new study shows mangrove value may be even higher, with much more carbon sequestered in them than originally thought.
Although mangroves are found only in tropical areas and cover an area less than 3% the size of the Amazon, studies show that they capture four times more carbon than rainforests can. Today scientist are aware that effective action on climate change will require a combination of emissions reductions and carbon sequestration, therefore protecting, enhancing and restoring natural carbon sinks have become political priorities.
Sadly mangrove deforestation has been dramatic. Studies indicate that some 35% of the world’s mangrove forests may have been lost between 1980 and 2000. Cleared to make way for their wood as well as shrimp farming and other aquaculture, they face other risks like drowning from climate change as seas rise. The mangroves in Florida Bay and the Everglades are at particular risk.
Since 2000, mangrove deforestation has resulted in as much as 447 million tons of CO2, more than many large countries.
Restoring and protecting mangrove habitat alone will not change the climate, but for the scientists who study them they are one of the most viable climate mitigation options we have.