Threat of global Mangrove Populations
About 90 % of mangrove forests grow in developing countries and it is estimated that more than 100 million people worldwide benefit from the approximately 152,000 square kilometers mangrove forests that exist on Earth. Nevertheless, the ecosystems disappear in such a rapid pace that their decline is even faster than the coral reefs and tropical rainforests according to a recent UNEP report. Countries such as the Philippines have lost in the last 100 years nearly 50 % of its mangrove forests. This is due mainly to human impacts, such as coastal development, agriculture, illegal logging and commercial shrimp farms.
Together with the trees, many associated plant and animal species, as well as fish are disappearing, protection of local population against tsunamis is decreasing and soil erosion is worsening. Almost one-fifth of global greenhouse emissions causing by deforestation are due to mangroves clearance. This is mainly due to the immense potential of mangrove forest as a carbon sink storing greenhouse gases, particularly in its muddy soils. According to experts, one hectare can store about 1,000 tons of carbon.
By the implementation of specific foresty measures, about 150,000 square meters of degenerate mangrove forests and 6 km coastline have been reconditioned in the four project countries. The restoration is based on the proven system from the Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR), based on natural succession. In addition, reforestation activities are performed by initial planting of seedlings raised by the project partners in nurseries. In this case, only seeds of native species are used.
More seedlings are raised in so called home gardens by local families. Additionally to mangroves, vegetables, fruits and herbs are cultivated, covering their own needs and offered on the regional markets. This creates additional income opportunities and improved nutritional basis for the families. Also, in the project regions diverse educational activities for approximately 5,000 children and adults are being carried out.