Maintained by IOC
|Mangrove forests occupy several million hectares of coastal area worldwide. These forests are characterized by trees, shrubs and vines that thrive in brackish water (water of varying salinity) and are often found around river estuaries (where freshwater rivers meet the oceans). Mangroves support an ecosystem that is comprised of plants, animals and microorganisms that have adapted to life in the dynamic environment of the tropical inter-tidal zone. These ecosystems are important environmentally and economically; mangrove trees can reach a height of up to 45m, producing dense, closed canopy forests that can support up to 80 different plant species, mangrove soils and waters support an abundance of permanent residents in addition to several migratory and juvenile organisms, including economically important species of fish, molluscs and crustaceans. 80% of global fish catches are directly or indirectly dependent on mangroves (as mangroves provide nursery areas for many pelagic species). Moreover, mangroves provide protection for coastal zones: for example, areas of India with dense mangrove forests suffered less human losses and property damage from the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami than areas without mangroves.
|Photo credit: NOAA|
|Anthropogenic Pressures and Management Issues|
|Humans have lived in coastal regions, including mangrove areas, throughout history. Currently, the world's coastal zones are home to over 60% of the human population, and the coastal demographic is expected to increase significantly in the next few decades. Industrial activity, population growth, human migration to coastal areas, unregulated aquaculture development and poor management practices stress coastal resources, including mangrove systems. Uncontrolled harvesting and destruction of mangrove forests can permanently alter these ecosystems. Past studies indicate that it takes at least a century for mangroves to recover from severe damage, if they are able to recover at all. These pressures have already placed mangrove ecosystems, and their affiliated ecosystems of coral reefs and seagrasses, around the world in danger of profound destabilization, the consequences of which include loss of valuable mangrove resources and a reduction in mangrove ecosystem production.
|Photo credit: FAO|
|A number of institutions, agencies, organizations and other relevant bodies are carrying out research and other relevant activities with respect to mangrove ecosystems in many parts of the world.|
UNESCO developed certain ground-laying project activities, particularly in the 1980s, and was instrumental in stimulating action that led to the founding in Japan, on 23 August 1990, of the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME). This Society has carried on and expanded the basic role previously played by UNESCO and some of its partners. At present the ISME has about 700 individual and institutional members. For more information on the activities and publications of the Society and its partners, consult the Global Mangrove database and Information System
For historical information on UNESCO past mangrove projects and publications, consult: http://w ww.unesco.org/csi/intro/mangrove.htm Also, UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme sponsors projects on protected biosphere reserves, some of which include mangrove sites. See: http://www .unesco.org/mab/aspaco/index.htm
printed on 2013/05/18 15:22:14