In the context of the climate emergency, mangroves are critical ecosystems to coastal communities across the tropics. Often the only barrier between villages and the open ocean, mangroves help protect people’s houses and businesses from the increasing number of tropical storms resulting from our changing climate. Due to their capacity to adapt to rising sea levels, mangroves also help to protect coastal villages from flooding. Furthermore, they are a vital habitat for many of the small scale fisheries that are the foundation of coastal livelihoods and food security across the tropics.
Over the last two decades, the substantial capacity of mangroves to capture and store carbon has been increasingly acknowledged. Studies conducted in Madagascar and across the tropics have shown that mangroves can sequester and store up to five times more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests. This makes them one of the most effective nature-based climate change mitigation solutions available.
What is the fate of this stored carbon if mangroves are deforested?
As is common across the West Indian Ocean, in Tsimipaika Bay, northwest Madagascar, mangroves are being harvested for charcoal production at an alarming rate, with an area equivalent to almost 800 football pitches being cleared annually in recent years. This is having a devastating impact on the fisheries upon which so many people depend.
Blue Ventures is supporting community groups in the region to develop and implement sustainable mangrove management plans in order to reverse this trend. Effective locally led management costs money, so we have been exploring the viability of climate finance as a funding mechanism for this management, and the broader economic resilience of the region in the face of a rapidly changing climate. This approach has already been successfully trialled by communities in southwest Madagascar.
This is an excerpt from an article by Blue Ventures, originally published on blueventures.org.