Along many tropical shorelines, swampy mangrove forests create habitat for fish and buffer the impact of heavy waves.
“Mangroves reduce the effects of climate change, protecting coastlines against erosion and rising sea levels and hurricanes or storm surge events,” says Alfredo Quarto, cofounder of the Mangrove Action Project.
He says mangrove forests also store a huge amount of carbon, so they help slow global warming.
But around the world, mangrove forests have been cut down for development and agriculture.
For example, in Thailand, vast areas were destroyed to make room for shrimp farms. Many of those farms have since been abandoned.
So Quarto’s group is helping turn those shrimp ponds back into ecosystems where mangroves can thrive.
He says the work requires more than planting seeds. For example, the group works with local communities to repair and reconnect waterways, which helps mangroves regenerate on their own.
“We’re trying to establish a kind of natural restoration that will bring back a healthy forest,” Quarto says. “It’s important for the wild fisheries. It’s important for the health of the coast, the resilience of the coast, especially in times of climate change.”
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.