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    10 Interesting Facts About Mangroves

    by Meaghan Weeden June 25, 2024 3 min read

    epic mangrove over under water
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    What are Mangroves?

    If you’ve ever vacationed in a tropical area, you may have encountered mangrove trees and noticed their incredible ability to grow, seemingly, out of the water. In fact, the mangrove is a tree family unlike any other — and they're critical 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 coastal intertidal zone - the area between high and low tide.

    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 Interesting Facts About Mangrove Trees!

    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. 

    2. Mangrove forests shelter an estimated 1,500 species (and not just fish and shellfish!)

    15% of those species are threatened with extinction. 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.

    3. 15% of species associated with mangroves are threatened with extinction

    The UN Environment Programme's "Decades of Mangrove Forest Change" report found that about 50% of mangrove-associated mammals, 22% of fish, 16% of plants, 13% of. amphibians, and 8% of bird and reptile species are threatened with extinction.

    4. 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.

    5. 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.) 

    6. 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.

    7. 123 and subtropical countries have mangroves along their coastlines and estuaries

    Mangrove forests are more ubiquitous than you might think. 123 tropical and subtropical countries are lucky enough to have mangroves along their coastlines and estuaries. Although this equates to less than 1% of global tropical forest cover, Mangroves provide ecosystem services to an estimated 2.4 billion people that live within 100km of coastlines.

    8. The Asia Pacific region contains half of the world's Mangrove forests

    Global mangrove maps released by the Global Mangrove Watch in 2020 showed approximately 147,539 km2 of mangrove forest in the world — with 51% in the Asia Pacific, 29% in the Americas, and 20% in Africa.

    9. Mangrove Forest Loss has stabilized, but they face persistent threats

    Between 1996-2020, 3.4% (5,245km2) of global mangrove cover was lost. In 2023, the UN Environment Programme reported that global mangrove loss had stabilized — and some areas have regained forest cover. This is great news, but mangroves are still threatened by persistent degradation, pollution, and biodiversity loss.

    10. 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.

    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 them is becoming more important than ever. One Tree Planted is actively supporting mangrove restoration around the world. Want to help protect these magnificent trees? Plant mangrove trees today!

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    Meaghan Weeden
    Meaghan Weeden

    Meaghan works to share our story far and wide, manages our blog calendar, coordinates with the team on projects + campaigns, and ensures our brand voice is reflected across channels. With a background in communications and an education in environmental conservation, she is passionate about leveraging her creativity to help the environment!