9 Interesting Facts About Mangroves

Meaghan Weeden |  July 14, 2022 | 4 min read

What are Mangroves?

If you’ve ever been on vacation by the beach somewhere tropical, you’ve probably encountered mangrove trees and noticed their incredible ability to grow, seemingly, with their roots underwater. In fact, the mangrove is a tree family unlike any other — and they're crucial for helping the environment and protecting the world’s coastlines. 

Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees (halophytes) and can be found in what’s known as the intertidal zone - the area where the coastlines meet land in tropical and subtropical locations.

What’s remarkable about them is that despite being trees, they're able to thrive in salty water, among the shifting sands of the world’s oceans, and rooted in the low-oxygen environment of mud. Their twisted roots and branches jut up from the sand and water like long, slender stilts and help to secure them against the battering of the sea and changing tide — and their thick, waxy leaves filter and excrete the salt from the water.

Aside from their incredible adaptation to an environment that's considered unfit for trees of any kind, mangrove forests are critical for protecting coastlines, endangered and threatened species, people’s livelihoods, and even helping combat climate change!

Watch Mangroves: Explained to learn more about these incredible trees!

Read On To Learn More Fun Facts About Mangrove Trees!

mangrove roots

1. Many species of mangrove survive by filtering up to 90% of the salt out of seawater as it enters their roots

As mentioned, most trees can't live in saltwater, but mangroves have adapted to live in high-salinity environments along coasts around the world. In addition to filtering salt out of sea water, their unique root systems help them stay upright in soft, waterlogged soils and give them access to oxygen and nutrients. 

biodiversity mangrove

2. Mangrove forestS protect an estimated 341 threatened species around the world (and not just fish and shellfish!)

Thanks to their intricate root systems, they provide nesting, nursery and feeding grounds for many aquatic organisms, including juvenile fish of thousands of species, oysters and mussels, mudskippers, lemon sharks, and manatees. Above the ocean surface, mangroves also provide critical habitat for cranes, eagles, monkeys, and even tigers!

coastal community mangrove

3. Mangroves act as natural barriers against rising tides and storm surges

Two undeniable symptoms of climate change are rising sea levels and increasingly extreme storm surges — and mangroves are a natural solution to protect against the devastation caused by both. A wave passing within 100 meters of a mangrove forest can lose around 2/3 of its energy. Experts estimate that mangrove ecosystems prevent more than $65 billion in property damages, and reduce flood risks for around 15 million people every year.

aerial mangrove blue carbon

4. Mangrove forests cover just 0.1% of the planet’s surface but store up to 10x more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests

That's right: they play a critical role in protecting the planet from climate change. How? Mangrove trees store carbon in their leaves, and when those leaves fall off and sink into the mud and silt, they become what is known as blue carbon (carbon that is stored underwater.) 

mangrove seedlings

5. Some mangroves  filter salt water through pores on their leaves

In addition to their roots,  some mangrove species also have special leaves that help them thrive in salty or brackish water. Still other mangrove species store salt in older leaves or bark. When the leaves drop and the bark sheds, the stored salt is shedded with them.

mangrove coastline

6. Over 100 tropical and subtropical countries have mangroves along their coastlines

Mangrove forests are more ubiquitous than you might think. Over 100 tropical and subtropical countries are lucky enough to have mangroves along their coastlines. One Tree Planted actively supports mangrove restoration projects throughout Asia and Latin America, including Costa Rica, The Philippines, India, Haiti and Guatemala. 

mangrove forest boat

7. Indonesia has the most mangrove coverage in the world

With more than 2 million hectares of mangrove forest throughout the country’s coastlines (an area larger than the country of Belize), Indonesia has an incredible wealth of mangrove forests. 

mangrove tree beach

8. Every year approximately 1% of the world’s mangroves are lost

This is mostly due to human practices like overfishing, land use changes, coastal development, and agriculture. At this rate, mangrove forests could disappear from Earth entirely by the year 2100.

fisherman checking mangroves

9. 80% of global fish catch is in some way dependent on mangrove forests 

If you like fish on your dinner plate then you can probably thank the mangroves. Whether they are spawning grounds for ocean bound fish, habitat for shrimp, or even an important source of algae, fruit, and salt, mangroves are a vital part of the global food supply. 

Mangrove forests are one of the most important coastal ecosystems for storing carbon, providing critical habitat, and protecting coastal communities. Sadly, they're disappearing from coasts around the world at a distressing rate.

For mangrove trees, sea level rise, farming, development, and aquaculture such as shrimp farming all pose major threats. Sea level rise in particular is limiting mangrove habitat and its climate change resilience: while they can migrate further inland, development of coastal areas limits where they can grow. 

The benefits of mangroves are immense, and as our planet rapidly changes, planting mangroves is becoming more important than ever. One Tree Planted is actively supporting mangrove restoration projects around the world. Want to help protect these magnificent trees? Plant a mangrove today!

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Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
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Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. This project is currently supporting Longleaf Pine Restoration. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Protect wildlife habitat and increase biodiversity
  • Restore essential watersheds for soil stability and erosion control
  • Sequester carbon in the biomass of the forests through climate stability
  • Longleaf pine forests are among the most biodiverse in North America and provide habitat for numerous threatened and endangered species. Longleaf pine forests are well-adapted to a warming climate as longleaf pine is a resilient species that is fire-dependent, drought-tolerant, and long-lived. Reforestation of longleaf pine ecosystems- to increase, maintain, and enhance the species- has been identified as a priority area within America's Longleaf Range Wide Conservation Plan. 🌲
  • Our longleaf pine reforestation project will restore habitats, control soil erosion, and sequester carbon in an effort to stabilize the climate in the area. Not only will wildlife benefit from the clean air and water provided by the planted trees, but the surrounding community will, too. This project will work with a variety of landowners whose responsible forest management and stewardship will only further increase the benefits for species residing on the lands. Some of the most notable species that will benefit from habitat restoration include gopher tortoises, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and eastern indigo snakes
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about our Longleaf Pine Restoration project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the ground!
  • We always plant a mix of diverse, native species from local nurseries. This project is working to replenish longleaf forests, so the native species grown in the nurseries will mainly be longleaf pine, but also include shortleaf pine and loblolly pine.

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