World's mangroves threatened with extinction

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World's mangroves threatened with extinction

Wed, 12/05/2010 - 22:36
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Sixteen percent of mangrove species are threatened with extinction. Global assessment discovers 11 of the world’s 70 mangrove species are threatened with extinction.

Mangrove forest.
Mangrove forest.

According to the first-ever mangrove species assessment conducted by the IUCN Red List, 11 of the world’s 70 mangrove species are threatened with extinction, including two which were listed as Critically Endangered. Species were evaluated by mangrove specialists and the Global Marine Species Assessment Unit (GMSA), a joint venture between the IUCN and Conservation International.

Present in tropical and subtropical regions, mangroves grow where salt water meets the land.and provide a number of vital functions in the ecosystem. As well as providing nurseries for a variety of fish species, they have the ability to store large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and act as buffers against erosion. During the devastating 2004 tsunami, regions with mangroves suffered less damage than those without.

“The potential loss of these species is a symptom of widespread destruction and exploitation of mangrove forests," said GMSA Research Associate Beth Polidoro. "Mangroves form one of the most important tropical habitats that support many species, and their loss can affect marine and terrestrial biodiversity much more widely."

It is estimated that mangroves provide at least 1.6 billion US dollars in ecosystem services annually, yet society is failing to stem the massive loss of mangrove forests worldwide. Already depleted in many parts of the world, the forests face a range of threats including coastal development, logging, agriculture, and climate change.