'Forests Asia' delegates to tackle threats to mangroves

by Julie Mollins | @jmollins | CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research)
Monday, 28 April 2014 06:42 GMT

Mangrove canopy in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. CIFOR/Sigit Deni Sasmito

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Coastal mangroves store high amounts of carbon, while protecting people from climate impacts and providing food and income - but they are disappearing fast

BOGOR, Indonesia (CIFOR) — Since 1980, Indonesia has lost more than 26 percent of its carbon-rich mangrove forests, which have shrunk in area from 4.2 million ha to 3.1 million ha, largely due to shrimp farm production that exploits their brackish salt water environment.

Scientists still do not understand the full magnitude of the problem, but mangrove deforestation generates as much as 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally, despite accounting for just 0.7 percent of tropical forest area, research shows.

“Mangrove forests are still disappearing at a rate of 0.6 percent per year globally,” said Don MacIntosh, senior advisor with Mangroves for the Future, who will lead a session on “Climate change:  mangroves for mitigation and adaptation” on May 5, at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta.

“These ecosystems nurture and enhance coastal fisheries, food and livelihood security, protect  coastlines and coastal dwellers from typhoons, tropical storms, floods, soil erosion, and even reduce the devastating impact of tsunami waves,” he said.

Coastal mangrove ecosystems play a critical role in global climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies by providing storage for higher amounts of carbon than other forest types.

“Our discussion forum will explore potential reasons why governments and society seem incapable of halting this loss, even though we know mangroves are valuable ecosystems,” MacIntosh said.

Apart from discussing who bears the responsibility for conserving mangroves, the session will explore what role sustainable mangrove use can play in a green economy and address whether REDD+ and carbon marketing could save mangroves.

REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) is being developed under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) aimed at increasing incentives to encourage sustainable management of forests to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by creating a financial value for keeping carbon stored in forests.

Globally, emissions caused by deforestation and degradation of forests account for one fifth of all human-generated emissions. 

Learn more about Mangroves for the Future