Category Archives: Mangrove and Coral Destruction

Oil spill off Mumbai coast: tangible damage to mangroves

Photo source: ©© Adam Cohn


To assess the damage caused by the oil spill across Mumbai coast, two teams of scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) will start a two-year long systematic scientific assessment on August 17th.

Following the August 7th spill, oil was found accumulating in mangroves at Navi Mumbai, Uran and Alibaug. Tar balls were also found on-shore in Sasvane, Kihim, Revas and Mandava along the Raigad coastline, Uran, Vashi and in pockets of Colaba…

Read Full Article, Hindustan Times

Mumbai Spill Hits More than Mangroves, The Wall Street Journal

Mangroves worldwide: a global loss of tidal forests

Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care


The first global assessment of mangroves in over a decade reveals that rare and critically important mangrove forests continue to be lost at a rate three to four times higher than land-based global forests, despite positive restoration efforts by some countries.

About one fifth of all mangroves are thought to have been lost since 1980. Although losses are slowing at 0.7 per cent a year, the authors warn that any further destruction due to shrimp farming and coastal development will cause significant economic and ecological decline.

Economic assessments provide some of the most powerful arguments in favour of mangrove management, protection or restoration. Studies estimate that mangroves generate between US$2000-9000 per hectare annually, considerably more than alternative uses such as aquaculture, agriculture or insensitive tourism.

The new atlas also underscores positive trends. Restoration efforts now cover some 400,000 hectares, as foresighted countries make the link between these coastal forests and economically-important services from flood defenses and fish nurseries to carbon storage to combat climate change.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, which is hosted by UNEP is bringing to the fore the multi-trillion dollar value of the world’s nature-based assets. This atlas brings our attention onto mangroves and puts them up front and central, plotting where they are, describing where they have been lost, and underlining the immense costs those loses have had for people as well as nature”.

“Together, the science and the economics can drive policy shifts. Some 1,200 protected areas are now safeguarding around a quarter of remaining mangroves and many countries are now embarking on major restorations-a positive signal upon which to build and to accelerate a definitive response in 2010, the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity,” he added.

“Mangrove forests are the ultimate illustration of why humans need nature,” says Dr. Mark Spalding, lead author of the World Mangrove Atlas and senior marine scientist with The Nature Conservancy. “In place after place the book details the extraordinary synergies between people and forests. The trees provide hard, rot-resistant timber and make some of the best charcoal in the world. The waters all around foster some of the greatest productivity of fish and shellfish in any coastal waters. What’s more, mangrove forests help prevent erosion and mitigate natural hazards from cyclones to tsunamis – these are natural coastal defenses whose importance will only grow as sea level rise becomes a reality around the world.”

“Given their value, there can be no justification for further mangrove loss. What’s urgently needed is for all those working in fields of forestry, fisheries and the environment to work together and communicate their worth, both to the public and to those with the capacity to make a difference”, said Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) which provided the bulk of funding for the Atlas. This book goes a considerable way to communicating that message.”

“The Nature Conservancy is an organization with its feet firmly on the ground in 30 countries,” said Mark Terceck, CEO of the Conservancy. “Already we have teams working to protect and restore mangroves from Florida to Indonesia, Palau to Grenada. This book raises the stakes and engenders urgency, but it also offers hope. These are robust and resilient ecosystems. Get things right for them and the payback will be immense: security for rich biodiversity and a lifeline to many of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Key Findings from the Atlas

Loss and restoration

The global area of mangroves, 150 000 square kilometers, is equivalent to the area of Suriname, or the state of Illinois, or half the area of the Philippines. Mangrove forests straddle land and sea and are found in 123 countries in tropical and subtropical regions.

The nations with the largest mangrove areas include Indonesia with 21 per cent of global mangroves, Brazil with 9 per cent, Australia 7 per cent, Mexico 5 per cent and Nigeria with 5 per cent.

The greatest drivers for mangrove forest loss are direct conversion to aquaculture, agriculture and urban land uses. Coastal zones are often densely populated and pressure for land intense. Where mangroves remain, they have often been degraded through over harvesting.

Where vast tracts of mangroves have been cleared for shrimp aquaculture, fast profits often left a legacy of long-term debts and poverty, which are hard to reverse.

According to the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) mangrove losses have been considerable and are continuing. Some 35,600 square kilometers were lost between 1980 and 2005.

While there are no accurate estimates of the original cover, there is a general consensus that it would have been over 200,000 square kilometers and that considerably more than 50,000 square kilometers or one-quarter of original mangrove cover has been lost as a result of human intervention.

Mangroves have now been actively planted or encouraged to grow through activities such as site clearance and the removal of waste. Examples include Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Use and ecological niche

Mangroves contribute to livelihoods locally and globally by providing forest resources such as timber, firewood and thatching materials as well as non-timber products.

They are also recognized as an important greenbelt and carbon sink that protects coastal areas from natural disasters such as tsunamis, cyclones and erosion resulting from sea-level rise especially in small island countries.

There is good evidence that mangroves even reduced the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in a number of locations.

There is also considerable storage of organic carbon in mangrove soils, meaning they may have an important role to play in the process of mitigating climate change. Preliminary estimates indicate that the total above-ground biomass for the world’s mangrove forests may be over 3700Tg of carbon, and that carbon sequestration directly into mangrove sediments is likely to be in the range of 14-17Tg of carbon per year.

Mangroves are also among the most important intertidal habitats for marine and coastal fisheries. Mangrove related species have been estimated to support 30 per cent of fish catch and almost 100 per cent of shrimp catch in South-East Asian countries, while mangroves and associated habitats in Queensland, Australia support 75 per cent of commercial fisheries species

Policy and solutions

The destruction of mangroves is often prompted by local decisions, market forces, industrial demand, population expansion or poverty. However, in many countries, the fate of mangroves is also determined by high level policy decisions.

In the Philippines, as an example, state-wide encouragement of aquaculture dating back to the 1950s led to massive losses. In Malaysia, by contrast, state ownership of mangroves prevails. While there have still been losses, large areas remain in forest reserves, managed for timber and charcoal production, with concomitant benefits for fisheries.

Trends of mangrove gain or loss can be rapidly and quite dramatically reversed. Laws addressing the placement of aquaculture standards or water quality pollution minimization have greatly altered the shape of new aquaculture developments in many countries.

New policies and projects have led to widespread mangrove plantation across the Philippines. Policies have led to the offsetting of mangrove loss by replanting or restoration with examples in Florida (US) and Australia.

Many countries, such as Mexico, Belize, Tanzania and Mozambique, have also established general legal protection for mangroves, controlling destructive activities through strict licensing systems.

The atlas brings together an unprecedented partnership of organizations, from forestry and conservation sectors and from across the United Nations, and includes a new and comprehensive map and account of mangrove forests.

Original Article And Learn More; UNEP

Mangroves Report Reveals Threats & Opportunities to Global Economy & the Planet; UNEP

Mangroves worldwide: a global loss of tidal forests, The National Geographic
Mostly because of coastal development, Earth has already lost perhaps as much as a quarter of its mangrove forests, and many species of mangrove plants are edging toward extinction. The remaining mangrove zones add up worldwide to no more than the area of the U.S. state of Illinois, and they shrink every year under the onslaught of development, pollution, and climate change.
The World Atlas of Mangroves published July 14th 2010, is the most comprehensive assessment of mangroves yet. It reveals “drastic loss to global economy and livelihoods,” the publishers said in a news release about the book.
More than 100 top international mangrove researchers and organizations provided data, reviews and other input. Spanish and French versions of the Atlas are being prepared.

Lessons in Brazil’s oil spill after a decade

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care
WATCH: A Youtube Video


In Brazil, an oil disaster 10 years ago struck an ecosystem much like the mangrove swamps in the US now being threatened by the giant BP oil leak in the US Gulf of Mexico.

More than 1.3 million litres of oil leaked from an underwater pipeline run by Brazilian oil giant Petrobras in 2000, making it the country’s largest spill devastating delicate mangrove ecosystems and destroying local habitat.

The oil contaminated the waters of Guanabara Bay outside Rio de Janeiro, an area which the Brazilian government at the time said would recover after 10 years.

But today the once-green mangrove bay area only has thick black mud and no life left in the soil…

Youtube Video

BBC Article on Guanabara Bay Oil Spill

Mangroves under threat, Solomon Islands

Mangrove roots. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


Mangroves are continuously under threat from overharvesting, degradation and land reclamation. Yet we continue to cut them down unaware at times of the role these trees are playing within the coastal ecosystem.

Fiji and other Pacific Islands are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and because we cannot prevent it we have to find means to adapt to climate change…

Read Full Article; By, Solomon Islands Journal, News online.

Mangrove forests in worldwide decline

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


More than one in six mangrove species worldwide are in danger of extinction due to coastal development and other factors, including climate change, logging and agriculture, according to the first-ever global assessment on the conservation status of mangroves for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

As a result, 11 out of 70 mangrove species (16 percent) which were assessed will be placed on the IUCN Red List. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Central America, where as many as 40 percent of mangrove species are considered threatened, are particularly affected…

Read Full Article; By the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Mangrove Extinction Risk and Geographic Areas of Global Concern, in Plos One

Snail and Coral Destruction

Coral. Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care


A little-known marine snail may be destroying coral reefs at an alarming rate, scientists report this week in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. The creature, described as a “zoological oddity” by the authors of the study, is known as Dendropoma maximum and belongs to a bizarre family of snails which fix themselves to a hard surface (such as coral) and catch their food using a ‘mucus net’. Although previous work has pointed towards the organism’s harmful effect on certain coral species, this is the first time that the snail’s effects on multiple species of corals have been described, raising concerns that the creature may be a significant factor in worldwide coral decline…

Read Full Article, By, The Royal Society

Greenbelt Reports / TVE Asia Pacific

Photo source: ©© Barloventomagico

The Greenbelt Reports (GBR) is a multi-media, Asian regional educational project to document the conservation challenges involving mangroves, coral reefs and sand reefs – collectively called ‘greenbelts’ in recognition of their natural protective role against wave action and anticipated climate change impact.

In mid 2005, TVE Asia Pacific launched this regional project is to journalistically investigate and report on efforts to balance conservation needs of coastal greenbelts with socio-economic needs of coastal communities. It was one of TVEAP’s communications responses to the Asian tsunami of December 2004.

‘Green Coast – for nature and people after the tsunami’ was itself formulated by four international organisations in response to urgent pleas from Asian partners to help recover damaged coastal ecosystems and influence better coastal resource management policies.

Filming The Greenbelt Reports in Jaring Halus, Indonesia 2006The founding partners of Green Coast are Wetlands International, World Wide Fund for Nature, IUCN and the Dutch environmental network Both Ends.

The Green Coast project is being financed for 18 months by Oxfam Novib, through Dutch public charity funds. Oxfam Novib is a member of Oxfam International, and has been one of the longest European partners and supporters of TVE Asia Pacific.
The Greenbelt Reports is a project that involves the production of new, journalistic material and their active distribution through broadcast, educational and civil society outlets across the Asia Pacific. Emphasis will be on coastal countries, especially those that were affected by the Asian Tsunami.

The Greenbelt Reports first series comprises one half hour regional documentary and 12 self-contained short videos 5 minutes in duration. Each tells the story of a community, activist group or researchers engaged in saving, restoring or regenerating coastal greenbelts.

Stories in the first series, to be released in December 2006, have from coastal areas in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand – the four countries that were hardest hit by the Tsunami.

“This series is not about the Asian Tsunami, but was inspired by the mega-disaster,” says Nalaka Gunawardene, Director of TVEAP and executive producer of The Greenbelt Reports. “This is an attempt to capture one of the key environmental lessons of the Tsunami, which we need to amplify as much as possible.”

Green Coast has supported the filming of stories on mangroves, coral reefs and sand dunes in four different locations in the north-western, southern and eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka (see box for synopses).

These were produced in cooperation with the following local level conservation groups or community organizations: Nature Conservation Group, Neo Synthesis Research Centre, Turtle Conservation Project and the community of Paanama village, eastern Sri Lanka.

Using funding support from the Green Coast project, the Sri Lanka stories – as well as the regional overview documentary, Greenbelt Reports: Armed by Nature — will be versioned into Sinhala and Tamil. These will then be distributed through national broadcasts, and at a dozen public outreach events to be organized in coastal locations.

The public outreach events are being scheduled for December 2006, which will also mark the second anniversary of the Asian Tsunami.

The Sri Lankan coast was one of the most heavily damaged areas in the region following the tsunami of December 26th. Sri Lanka suffered the highest number of deaths after Indonesia, an estimated 34,000 people on the island lost their lives and thousands more are missing. The number of homeless people was estimated at about 800,000 while about 400,000 are said to have lost their livelihoods – primarily in agriculture and fishery. The tsunami caused severe damage in 12 of the country’s 14 coastal districts.

Full Article and Videos