IN 25 YEARS,
20% OF THE
(Between 1980 and 2005)
And that’s not a good thing! Indeed, this forest on piles is an excellent stabilizer of the coastlines and its degradation endangers biodiversity and people.
Without it, we lose a natural barrier to the waves and currents generated by cyclones, tsunamis and rising oceans. It also extends the time it takes for the ecosystem to recover from its injuries.
of Indonesian mangrove has been destroyed over the last
mainly due to shrimp farming in basins in the mangrove swamp(1)
For some people living near the coast, the mangrove swamp take up too much space. In fact, it is cut down, often illegally, to free up space that is then used for intensive shrimp farming or for growing oil palm trees. These farms are very harmful to the environment because, to control water quality and treat fish, we use chemicals… a job that the mangrove swamp used to do (very well) naturally.
Overexploitation (cutting and fishing)
Moreover, fishing, when it is too important, jeopardizes biodiversity and the balance of the entire ecosystem.
However, we cannot rob this natural department store without paying the price…
of waste are not collected in Indonesia and plastic residues often end up in rivers(2)
Like unfortunately everywhere else, the mangrove swamp is facing pollution attacks. First by macro and micro-waste (from plastic bags, packaging, etc.) that suffocates plants, but also because of dams and other water diversions that reduce the amount of water in rivers and prevent sediments from flowing down the river to serve as soil for mangroves.
In addition, there are oil leaks that can come from ships or pipelines (large pipes that carry oil), a deadly tide for mangroves. Indeed, this heavy and viscous oil covers the pores of trees. In fact, it’s like having your nostrils blocked with tar! It should be noted that in normal times, mangroves manage to filter 90% of the salt they suck up(3). Except that the toxic substances of oil damage this system and therefore the salt, which is no longer filtered as well, affects the plant!
Disappearance of the reef
of the world’s coral reefs have already suffered irreversible damage.
are seriously threatened(4)
Mangrove swamp and coral reef form a fantastic team and the best duo of biological superheroes. The coral reef reduces the strength of waves, which can damage mangroves if they are too strong. In return, mangroves filter the water that keeps corals healthy. It also serves as an egg-laying area and shelter to allow small fish to develop enough to reach the coral reef. The strength of these two ecosystems is also based on the incredible diversity of the species that live there. Today, coral is threatened by dynamite fishing; ocean warming; mass tourism, etc. However, what threatens one of our superheroes weakens the other, thus weakening both ecosystems at the same time. And when the diversity of coral fauna is threatened or lost, it is the biodiversity of mangrove swamp that is also reduced.
The rate of ocean elevation is
faster between 2004 and 2015 than between 1993 and 2004(5)
The rising waters do not frighten mangroves in any way, they face the tide in every day life. No, what they fear is that they will not have the space to escape this rise. Mangrove swamp see savannahs or swampy forests as distant cousins that it can replace. The problem is when the space around it is urbanized, blocked by roads, parking lots, etc. So mangroves get surrounded, and can’t move… well they can not actually move of course, trees don’t move! It is their children (the seeds) which colonize the new lands that are adapted to their needs. And it will be very difficult for them to grow up in concrete or on the seabed
of the carbon trapped in mangroves was lost between 2000 and 2012.
The future of the entire planet, both flora and fauna, depends on climate change and the mangrove swamp knows it well. Indeed, climate change is at the origin of the increase in temperatures but also of the increase in the frequency of extreme events such as cyclones or droughts. These are all assaults that could bring down the fragile fortress of the mangrove ecosystem.
However, it is not only a fortress that protects, it is also a fortress that retains, because once destroyed, the mangrove releases the carbon it has been trapping until now, sometimes in very large quantities.
For example, the mangrove swamp destroyed between 2000 and 2012 would have emitted as much carbon as if about 316 million tonnes of CO2 had been emitted(6) To give an idea, this is almost as much as the United Kingdom’s CO2 emissions in 2016. This gives twice as many good reasons to keep it alive, or even to pamper it!
Agence internationale de l’énergie (AIE – en anglais: International Energy Agency – IEA), Key World Energy Statistics 2018 [archive] 19 septembre 2018