This article was originally published on Mongabay


Highlights:

  • A new study calculates that, worldwide, mangroves were storing 4.19 billion metric tons of carbon in 2012, representing a 2 percent loss since 2000. It estimates that number had dropped further to 4.16 billion metric tons by 2017.
  • In total, the study estimates that this lost carbon translates to as much as 317 million tons of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to the annual emissions of around 67.5 million passenger vehicles in the U.S. and more than the 2015 emissions of Poland.
  • The researchers found Indonesia harbors the lion’s share of the world’s mangroves – around 30 percent – while also experiencing the biggest proportion of its 2000-2012 mangrove carbon loss, with deforestation there accounting for more than 48 percent of the global total. Other parts of Southeast Asia, such as Myanmar, are also undergoing high rates of mangrove deforestation, making the entire region a hotspot of global mangrove carbon loss.
  • Previous research estimates that between 30 and 50 percent of the world’s mangroves have been lost over the past 50 years. Deforestation for shrimp, rice and palm oil are among the biggest drivers of mangrove decline.

“Seemingly nondescript messes of tangled branches and exposed roots, mangrove forests cling to the coasts of many tropical countries. However, mangroves are far from unexceptional, providing critical ecosystem services like erosion control, flood mitigation and nurseries for fish. Mangroves also store a lot of carbon, with a hectare of mangrove forest sequestering up to four times as much carbon as a similarly sized tract of rainforest.

But mangroves are in trouble. Studies estimate between 30 and 50 percent of the world’s mangroves have been lost over the past 50 years as they are deforested for shrimp, rice and palm oil production, drowned by rising seas, and starved of freshwater by dam-building. And as mangroves disappear, so do their wildlife communities and carbon stores.

But just how much carbon do mangroves contain, and how much is being lost to their deforestation? To find out, researchers at Salisbury University in the U.S. and National University of Singapore analyzed the carbon content of mangrove vegetation as well as the soil underneath it. Their results were published recently in Nature Climate Change…”

Read on at: Mongabay.