Mangroves: A Life-Saving Coastal Ecosystem
A global commitment to conserve, protect and restore mangroves is needed to safeguard this unique ecosystem.
Coastal areas are the crucial interface between the two major elements that cover our planet. They provide ground for various ecosystems and biodiversity. In developing countries, many coastal communities live in close vicinity of these areas and rely on the resources of marine and coastal ecosystems to secure food and income. Ecosystems close to shore are however greatly under pressure from varying economic interests and development needs.
Almost half of the global population lives within a distance of 150 km to the coast. The majority of urban centers concentrate at coastal locations due to trade traffic and fishery. In addition, coastal areas also serve a variety of recreational purposes, attracting millions of tourists who leave behind their environmental footprints. In consequence, massive utilization pressure bears down on coastal ecosystems, which are easy to exploit and can be competitors in terms of land use – as in the case of mangroves. This led to a continuous overexploitation, degradation and destruction of the world’s mangrove forests over the past decades.
A global commitment to conserve, protect and restore mangroves is needed to safeguard this unique ecosystem. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) see the urgent need to stop the ongoing loss of mangroves and therefore join their forces within a new cooperation on mangrove conservation.
mangrove forests are one of the Earth’s most climate resilient, productive and biodiverse ecosystems
Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants that – as of today – cover more than 15 million hectares of tropical coastal areas worldwide. Even though they make up only 0.1 % of the global landmass, mangrove forests are one of the Earth’s most climate resilient, productive and biodiverse ecosystems. More than 100 million people live within a vicinity of 10 km from mangroves and depend on their ecosystem services. The conservation and restoration of mangroves is thus an important contribution to the achievement of the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations and the therein defined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – above of all SDG 14 on the protection and sustainable use of our oceans and marine resources.
Unsustainable use and increasing economic development pressure on mangroves have led to an alarming loss of global mangrove cover. Nearly half of all mangrove forests have disappeared since the mid-twentieth century. The global loss rate of mangroves is 3 to 5 times higher than the one of terrestrial forests. Thereby, the destruction of mangrove forests is responsible for about 10% of global CO2 emissions caused by deforestation – 240 million tons of CO2 per year. Loss rates are extremely high in South-East Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Coastal states in Sub-Saharan Africa also show worrying loss rates. Main causes are the logging of mangroves for timber and charcoal production and the extension of usable areas for settlements, agriculture and aquaculture. Between 1980 and 1990 alone, about 38 % of the global mangrove area was degraded or lost through shrimp farming.
Approximately 25 % of all remaining mangrove areas worldwide are managed as part of an estimated 1,200 protected areas. Many international and local organizations and initiatives have put ongoing effort in the protection and restoration of mangroves over the past decades. Partially, mangrove forests are recovering or even extending, e. g. in Puerto Rico, Brazil and Bangladesh. These successes however do not counterbalance the overall mangrove cover decrease.
BMZ, WWF and IUCN join their forces to contribute to the existing global efforts to halt the decrease of mangrove habitats.
Currently, German development cooperation supports about 40 projects in more than 15 countries that contribute to the protection or restoration of mangroves. This engagement tackles e. g. the improvement of the institutional settings, the introduction of integrated planning approaches or the establishment of coastal protected areas.
Meantime, WWF’s existing activities on mangrove restoration and protection includes active work with local communities in more than 20 countries. WWF is also active in global partnerships on mangrove conservation including the Partnership on Coastal Resilience, the International Partnership for Blue Carbon and the Global Mangrove Alliance (GMA).
The conservation and restoration of mangroves play a significant role in the climate mitigation efforts of IUCN, such as through the Blue Carbon Initiative and its work on Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA). IUCN also supports governments in investing and managing coastal ecosystem conservation via initiatives like “Mangroves for the Future” (MFF).
The ongoing loss of mangroves gives reason to boost the existing efforts and to bundle the power of stakeholders. BMZ, WWF and IUCN join their forces to contribute to the existing global efforts to halt the decrease of mangrove habitats. Up-scaling of successful protection and restoration measures and initiatives is at the core of our ambitions. BMZ decided to increase its commitment for mangrove protection. With a view to enhance awareness, commitment and cooperation for mangrove protection among partner countries, donors and civil society, BMZ and its partners are beginning a new cooperation on mangrove conservation.
The international community is aware of the importance of mangroves for our planet.
Mangrove protection and restoration are an integral part of relevant international agreements.
The work of existing initiatives on mangroves is broadly supported and up-scaled.
Mangrove protection in the Western Indian Ocean Region is enhanced.
Embed a global goal for mangrove protection in political agendas
The GMA set a target of increasing the global area of mangrove habitat 20% over current extent by 2030. BMZ, WWF and IUCN support this target and will work towards its integration in relevant international agreements as well as national political agendas. Raising awareness among political decision-makers about the importance of mangroves on a global scale is part of our core endeavors.
Pool leading expertise and enhance knowledge-sharing
To foster synergies, existing mangrove protection efforts of relevant stakeholders such as the GMA will be supported. Enhanced knowledge exchange and the closure of existing knowledge gaps through the elaboration of target-oriented studies will be a major contribution of the new cooperation. The establishment of a joint online-platform will simplify access to information and collected knowledge on mangrove conservation – for practitioners as well as for political decision-makers.
Applicate and disseminate best practices in the Western Indian Ocean
The newly initiated cooperation will apply best practices, develop regional networks as well as mainstream mangrove protection into national development plans and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement in the Western Indian Ocean Region. Thereby, BMZ and its partners aim at the development of local, national and regional capacities and the improvement of political framework conditions for the effective protection and restoration of mangroves.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)