New research suggests that mangrove forests in the Indo-Pacific could be submerged by 2070, thanks to rising sea levels.
University of Queensland ecologist Professor Catherine Lovelock explained that even when using relatively low estimates of sea-level rise, the future of many mangrove forests doesn’t look good.
Mangroves are important habitats that act as nurseries for young fish (including commercially important species), protect coastlines from damaging storms, and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. According to Professor Lovelock, the monetary value of mangrove forests is estimated at $194,000 per hectare per year.
“Mangroves are predicted to be submerged in parts of Thailand, Sumatra, Java, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands,” Professor Lovelock explained in a news release.
“The Indo-Pacific region holds most of the world’s mangrove forests, but sediment delivery in this region is declining, due to activities such as dam construction,” she said. “This is of particular concern as this region is expected to have variable but high rates of future sea-level rise.”
The good news is that given enough time, mangroves may be able to keep up with sea level rise. If management plans are put in place to maintain sediment and reverse forest degradation, the outlook is much more positive.
The second piece of good news is that the future in other parts of the world isn’t so grim.
“Our modelling shows mangroves are likely to persist in east Africa, the Bay of Bengal, eastern Borneo and north-western Australia – areas where there are relatively large tidal ranges and/or higher sediment supply,” she said.
To learn more:
- Read the full news release: Rising seas will drown mangrove forests
- Read the study abstract: The vulnerability of Indo-Pacific mangrove forests to sea-level rise
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