We often hear that deforestation in forests and jungles like the Amazon releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere causing a “green-house effect” that contributes to global warming. But have we considered the consequences of mangrove deforestation.
A new study conducted by Salisbury University in the US with the National University of Singapore and reported in Mongabay, has done just that, and its findings are startling. It calculated that between 2000 and 2012 there was a 2 percent loss in the world’s stored carbon, that was directly attributable to mangrove deforestation. That translates to as much as 317 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, or the equivalent of emissions from 67 million passenger vehicles. In other words, that’s more than all emissions from all sources in Poland.
And unfortunately, it is a trend that will almost certainly continue. Around the world we have seen coastal development for tourism, agriculture, aquaculture and industry and often that growth has resulted in the destruction of mangrove forests.
30% of the World’s Mangroves are in Indonesia
Indonesia is home to 30 % of the world’s mangroves and is also seeing the most rapid deforestation, nearly 50% of the world’s total mangrove loss. Along with Myanmar, that is also seeing high rates of mangrove destruction, it makes Southeast Asia a region of extreme mangrove carbon loss.
Researchers analyzed the carbon content contained within the mangroves as well as the soil in which the mangrove grew. That’s important because approximately 70% of the stored carbon is locked in the soil. The study estimates that 4.19 billion metric tons of carbon are stored in mangroves worldwide and approximately 50% of that total carbon is stored in four countries; Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. (map – global forest watch)
Over the last five decades, research suggests that 30 to 50% of the world’s mangroves have been lost along with the ecosystems that they support and the carbon that they store with severe implications for the future.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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