A Natural Barrier to Natural Disasters
The mangrove’s regulating services also include being a nifty form of coastal protection. Evolved to withstand the salinity of the sea, strong tidal forces and warm tropical temperatures, the tangle of mangrove forests protect from erosion, storm surges and tsunamis, therefore preserving human life and providing a thriving breeding ground and nursery habitat for a variety of marine creatures; including commercial species and juvenile reef fish.
The devastating events of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami sparked an interest into the protective role of mangrove forests, following the lesser destruction of settlements protected by this natural coastal barrier. Strong scientific evidence suggests that the presence of mangroves was the sole reason for the safety of many settlements in reach of the wave, with experiments in Japan proving that a 100-metre strip of a healthy mangrove forest could reduce a tsunami’s destructive force by as much as 90%.
Since 2004, mangrove plantations have become a hot topic of disaster management planning and many NGOs have attempted to replant these forests across the globe. However, despite the mighty mangrove ecosystem being of great ecological and socio-economic importance, they are diminishing at a staggering global loss rate of 1–2% per year. These rates are only increasing.