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Mangroves are a group of shrubs and trees that are found mostly in coastal areas.
A clustered and floating mop of messy green foliage, mangroves, as plants, aren’t all that appealing to the eyes.
However, these tropical shrubs and trees are one of the most productive ecosystems on the earth because they perform a variety of useful functions.
Below are 5 amazing facts about mangroves that we bet you didn’t know. We hope you find them useful.
They sequester more carbon than rainforests
Yes. You read that right!
Mangroves, like other coastal wetlands, are powerful CO2 sequesters. They capture carbon dioxide from the air, as well as other deposits that collect around them, and store them in their roots and branches.
In fact, by virtue of their tightly-packed nature, they can store up to 10 times more carbon than rainforests.
They help stabilize coastal areas
Mangroves protect coastal areas and inhabitants by serving as natural barriers against storms, typhoons, and tsunami.
They also absorb and incapacitate wave energy and hinder damage caused by debris movement.
Their clustered root system, which anchors them into underwater sediment, slows down incoming tidal waters, and stabilizes coastal areas by reducing coastal erosion, capturing sediments, and bio-filtering nutrients as well as some water pollutants.
They have economic benefits
Mangroves are sources of a multitude of benefits to coastal populations.
For instance, the timber from mangrove forests is used for a wide range of things like boats, buildings, fish traps, etc. Some countries use wood from mangroves as firewood for cooking and also burn them to produce charcoal.
Some species in mangrove forests also provide a number of benefits like edible fruits, honey from bees, mushrooms, tannin from bark, fodder, building material, etc.
Mangrove forests are also habitats and breeding grounds for a wide range of fishes, crabs, mollusks, prawns, and other marine species of high commercial value.
In Matang, Malaysia, for example, the valuation of mangroves to fisheries alone has been estimated at US$ 1,700 per hectare each year while in Southeast Asia, they have been estimated to support about 30% fish catch and nearly 100% of shrimp catch.
They are homes to many species
Many marine species like fish, crabs, shrimps, and shellfish find shelter among the mangrove roots to breed. As they hatch, they head out to forage in the seagrass beds as they grow and move into the open ocean as adults.
The mangrove forests are like a safe home for these marine species because they provide shelter to hide these younglings until they are strong enough to go into the sea.
On land, mangroves create environments suitable for other plants and animals to thrive. Plants like rare orchids, as well as birds, insects, lizards, and even larger mammals like monkeys, all benefit from mangroves.
Mangroves can survive in saltwater
Not many plants can survive in saltwater but mangroves are among the few that can.
Many mangrove species survive in three ways:
Firstly, they filter saltwater. They extract fresh water from the seawater that surrounds them. In fact, they can filter out as much as 90% of the salt found in seawater as it enters their roots.
Secondly, some species excrete salt through the glands in their leaves. Their leaves are covered with dried salt crystals and you can tell that they are salty just by licking their leaves.
Thirdly, some species concentrate salt in older leaves or bark so that when the leaves drop or the bark sheds, the stored salt goes with them.