Mangroves are plants that live along the coastline, between fresh and seawater, and often around estuaries. They are among the most complex and productive ecosystems in the world, and have amazing evolutionary adaptations which allow them to not only survive but thrive in an environment where no other species could. They provide a habitat for countless animals, all contributing to the ecosystem.
The topics that will be discussed are the environmental, economical and social values of mangroves, and how they are beneficial to us. Afterwards, the ways in which humans detrimentally impact these ecosystems will be analysed. Stakeholders of the mangrove and how they will be impacted ...view middle of the document...
Mangroves are able to store 2-4× the carbon that tropical rainforests do (Daniel Donato, US Agriculture Department's Forest Service), and unlike most other forests that store carbon above ground, mangroves have a much higher below:above ground carbon storage ratio. The reason for this is that whereas in most environments sediment and litter would decay quickly due to the aerated soil, much of the mangrove matter gets submerged in an airless environment; water and mud. As there is not a large enough supply oxygen to break it down, the decomposition of materials occurs at a much slower rate. As there is nowhere for the excess carbon to go, it ends up stored within the root system and decomposing mud around the trees.
Mangroves also have an extraordinarily rich, biodiverse ecosystem that provides habitats for all kinds of animal and plant species. It is extremely rich in nutrients- decaying and live organic matter provide a valuable resource for every single level in the trophic food chain. A nutrient-abundant soil for the producers, which in turn provide food for the primary consumers in the form of leaves, fruits, seeds and flowers. The crustaceans and other various animals that feed on the plants supply the predators of the ecosystem with a food source. These predators may include large fish, wading birds and in some cases monkeys, which can be fined upon by the sharks and crocodiles that seek refuge within the estuaries situated around mangrove forests. Mangroves also play a critical role in maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem not only along the coastline, but deep into the open ocean, also. They help to provide calm, unsullied waters with copious protection from airborne predators by having an unbroken canopy, and with the thousands of roots that break choppy waters into a placid plane where many juvenile fish can live. These nurseries support many commercially-caught fish and crustaceans by acting as an environment where many open-sea fish can come to feed and breed undisturbed.
Many of the fish that spend their early lives growing up in mangroves end up in the seas, and are often caught by fishermen either recreationally or commercially, benefiting both sides. By acting as feeding and breeding grounds for these commercially-caught fish, healthy mangrove environments aid in maintaining a healthy stock of fish to be caught and sold on the market. Not only do fish breed there, but many commercially-caught crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp and prawns are found in these ecosystems. In fact, estimations show that up to 67% of the entire commercial catch of Eastern Australia are in some way related to mangroves (MangroveWatch, 2013). With 90% of the population consuming seafood, the conservation of these rich environments is of paramount importance in order to keep the industry in shape.
Mangroves can also be harvested for their commercially applicable wood. Although not very popular amongst the modern population,...