Mangroves are one of the most important ecosystems in nature. This is an ecosystem consisting of special plant species found in estuaries, lagoons, and riverbanks in tropical countries. There are many characteristics unique to mangrove plants that grow even under environmental conditions that are difficult for normal plant species to survive. Mangrove ecosystems have many benefits for the natural environment and the creatures that live there.
What are mangroves?
Mangroves are a plant community that grows in intertidal estuaries and lagoons. These can be found in various sizes from shrubs to tall trees. Sometimes the salinity of the water in the submergence is high. Just like the water level in the mangrove environment, the salinity also changes from time to time. The soil in which these grow is acidic. The amount of oxygen it depends on is also very low. Mangrove species have many adaptations to grow well even in such harsh environmental conditions.
Microbial activity occurs slowly in mangrove environments. It is very windy here. Sunlight is also high. Because of this, mangroves have unique characteristics that set them apart from all other ecosystems. That is why it is considered a special ecosystem.
History of mangroves
According to recent microfossil research, the origin of mangroves dates back to the end of the Cretaceous period. Scientists believe that the first mangrove ecosystem on earth was formed at the beginning of the territorial period. According to the currently accepted view, these mangroves originated in the Tethys Sea and spread around the world with continental drift. These have evolved into 16 main castes.
There has been great interest in mangroves since ancient times. Thus the earliest record of mangroves dates back to the reign of King Alexander. It was based on the experience gained by Niyawas, an army officer of the king who served in the Persian Gulf region. Based on those experiences, the philosopher Theopasture prepared a scientific report. It is about the mangrove species Rhizophora mucronata which is spread around the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.
However, mangroves, which have been evolving for sixty million years, are now seriously threatened.
Mangroves of the world
Mangroves in the world are distributed in several tropical and subtropical countries with tropical waters. Mangrove ecosystems are found in 123 countries around the world. In total, that environment is 152 million hectares. About 75% of it is reported from fifteen countries. 39% of mangroves are widespread in Asian countries. Although it is spread over a small area compared to the whole earth, its values are immense.
As mentioned in the accepted books and documents, the number of mangrove plant species found in the world is 73. Of these, 62 species of mangroves are recorded in the West Indian and Pacific regions, 12 species in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific regions, and one species in both these regions.
Mangrove system resilient to climate change
Global warming is one of the main problems facing the people of the world today. Due to this, almost every country in the world has to face climate change and suffer from it. Due to the effects of climate change, the entire biosphere is now under threat. Some species are on the verge of extinction and others are at risk of extinction. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, etc. are released into the atmosphere and are mainly responsible for global warming.
Mangrove ecosystems play a major role in mitigating climate change. According to the latest research, global mangrove ecosystems are said to screen 6.4 billion metric tons of carbon annually. The mangrove plant community is capable of sequestering five times more carbon than all other ecosystems. Apart from this, mangroves have many benefits for nature and man.
Benefits we get from mangroves
- To be taken as food.
- To manufacture mats, bags and pots, etc.
- For the manufacture of beverages
- To make axes etc.
- To dye door nets.
- To obtain wood for the mask industry.
- As a valuable local medicine.
- To obtain timber for buildings and fuel.
- To obtain important mangrove branches as animal feed.
- Lagoon fishermen tie meat branches while fishing.
- To utilize shellfish and crustaceans found in mangroves for the lime industry.
- Useful as windbreaks.
- To prevent bank erosion.
- Leaves are important for use as fertilizer.
- Importance of mangrove areas for beekeeping.
- Provide habitat for animals.
- To nourish lagoon and ocean fishery resources.
Threats to mangrove ecosystems
- Clearing the environment for the construction of houses and other buildings.
- Destruction of mangroves for shrimp trapping.
- Accumulation of sewage-contaminated water in lagoons.
- Pollution of lagoon water due to oil collected from boats.
- Sand reclamation of mangrove lagoons.
- Pollution of lagoons due to shell mining.
- Large-scale felling of mangrove trees for timber.
- Digging pits for coconut shelling in mangrove areas.
- Dumping of waste from factories and houses into mangroves.
- Construction of tourist hotels on the banks of mangrove lagoons.
- Mangrove burning to hunt wild animals.
- Destruction of mangrove areas for alcohol production.
Conservation of mangrove ecosystems
Both nationally and internationally, attention has been paid to the conservation of mangrove ecosystems. That is because of its many importance. Every year 26th July is also named Mangrove Conservation Day. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2015) has emphasized the importance of mangrove conservation. The main reason for the destruction of mangrove ecosystems is the ignorance of the community about its value and lack of desire to conserve them. There are many measures we can take to conserve mangrove ecosystems.
- Replanting of mangroves in places where mangroves have been destroyed.
- Declaring mangrove areas as protected areas.
- Introduction of alternative sources of income or resource utilization.
- Community awareness to reduce lagoon pollution..
Actions etc. can be named.
Let’s protect these mangrove ecosystems that bring many benefits to humans and animals.