April 22nd, 2021 is the 51st annual Earth Day, a day to demonstrate support for environmental protections, marked this year by a Leaders’ Summit on Climate Change led by the United States. While Earth Day is a reason to celebrate all of our planet, we argue that mangroves deserve a special spot in the program.
Mangroves furnish remarkable benefits, and the world is waking up to their value:
For local communities, the trees’ interweaving roots buffer extreme weather that would otherwise devastate infrastructure and put lives at risk. The wetland forests also provide resources that can be sustainably harvested and provide shelter for a host of different plants and animals. Several of our Alliance members are utilizing Mangrove Action Project’s community-based ecological mangrove restoration (CBEMR) technique to empower local communities to protect their forests.
Protection and restoration at local levels makes a global impact as mangroves capture up to five times more carbon from the atmosphere than other forests. National governments are embracing these benefits with resources from our member organizations such as: near real-time science on mangrove cover and carbon storage for countries around the world on the Global Mangrove Watch platform, legal frameworks available in four different languages that provide guidance for incorporating mangrove protection into law, and a study on potentially insuring mangrove forests against harm.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact people globally, and that affects how well the world manages mangroves. But it’s clear from member updates this month and across the last year that the push to pursue mangrove research as well as action on protection and restoration continues to move forward. This doesn’t mean that we should become complacent; community involvement is still needed to bring global attention to local issues and further action is still vital as we move steadily closer to 2030 and our Alliance goal of increasing mangrove cover 20% by 2030.