Human activity is currently a bigger threat to mangroves, and the natural defences they provide against storm surges and other coastal disasters, than rising sea levels, according to a new study. Although we can expect some ...
The survey warns that human activity on land – such as the damming up of rivers or the felling of trees to create shrimp ponds – is currently a far greater threat to many mangrove habitats than the effects of climate change on sea level.
Mangroves – trees and shrubs which grow in saltwater, coastal environments – play a critical role in protecting thousands of shoreline communities in tropical and subtropical regions from floods, storms, and other hazards.
Their densely-packed, overground root systems can absorb wave energy and reduce the velocity of a sudden surge of water. In the 2004 tsunami, for example, mangroves were sometimes the difference between life and death for people whose homes lay in the path of the giant waves which crashed into shorelines around South Asia.