The Source, Annual Review 2020

In Guinea-Bissau, local farmers helped break dikes to restore hydrology for ecological mangrove restoration.

rich marine ecosystems.

Mangroves are found in 106 countries and cover more than 13 million hectares of intertidal areas around the world.

This event, early in 2021, was a notable early achievement for the Global Mangrove Watch (GMW), an online platform supported by Wetlands International that provides remote- sensing data for near real-time monitoring of one of the world’s most important coastal ecosystems. It went live in July 2020, using data supplied by the Advanced Land Observing Satellite of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). “Global Mangrove Watch is proving of incredible value,” says Menno de Boer, our Technical Officer for Coasts and Deltas. “Without the GMW platform, we would not have been able to know that anything was going on.” It could herald a new dawn for mangrove protection and restoration. Mangroves were once forgotten backwaters, falling between the cracks in public thinking about ecosystems worth conserving – with little of the allure of either rainforests or coral reefs. That perception is changing. Especially with growing recognition of their extent -- they are found in 106 countries and cover more than 13 million hectares of intertidal areas, an area the size of Bangladesh-- and their importance for climate as carbon-

Each year, mangroves capture millions of tonnes of carbon. A typical hectare holds more than a thousand tonnes, to five times more than the same area of rainforest. The tangled roots of mangroves are also vital nurseries for an estimated one-tenth of all marine life, as well as buffers against rising tides, coastal storms and eroding currents. Yet some two-thirds of mangroves worldwide are thought to have been lost or degraded by human invasion or sea-level rise. A fifth of that loss have been since 1980, especially during a craze across Southeast Asia for converting them to shrimp ponds. A 2020 study found that Myanmar has lost more than 60% of its mangroves in just 20 years to rice paddy, oil palms, rubber and shrimp ponds and urbanization. To keep track and fight back, the Global Mangrove Watch has been in development for almost a decade, initiated by Wetlands International, The Nature Conservancy, Aberystwyth University and SoloEO, in collaboration with dozens of academics, NGOs, funders and government agencies.

A new approach to salt production that makes use of solar heat instead of fuel wood was introduced in Guinea-Bissau – saving 3.1 kilos of wood per kilo of salt produced and reducing mangrove loss significantly.



Wetlands International Annual Review 2020

Wetlands International Annual Review 2020

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