© WWF-Malaysia / Mazidi Abd Ghani

Development is a major risk to coastal ecosystems

Coastal wetlands are vital to protecting our planet. The unique ecosystems, which include mangroves, seagrasses, and saltmarshes, are valuable wildlife habitat, carbon storers, extreme weather barriers, food sources and detoxifiers.

Scientists from the Global Wetlands Project at Griffith University – a member of the Global Mangrove Alliance – study these important habitats. This group recently released important research papers within the last year on the coastal development threats mangroves and associated ecosystems are facing, and how these threats might impact wildlife.

In January 2020, researchers with the released a paper titled “China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Conservation opportunities for threatened marine species and habitats”. The paper examines the potential impacts of the extensive port development and increased shipping traffic planned between China, East Africa, and Europe.  Dr. Mischa Turschwell is an aquatic ecologist with Griffith University and first author on the article. His work uses statistical ecology and spatial modelling to helps us understand how mangroves, and coastal ecosystems in general, will be impacted by land development and related stressors. Dr. Turschwell gave an overview of his research and the new paper in the video for the Global Mangrove Alliance below:

In mid 2019, Griffith scientists also released a paper on a key, but underappreciated, service of coastal wetlands, titled “The Role of Vegetated Coastal Wetlands for Marine Megafauna Conservation.” This research is summarized in our Knowledge Hub here. Dr. Michael Sievers, the first author, is an experimental and field marine ecologist, and discussed his work and the findings of the paper for the Global Mangrove Alliance in the video below: