It has a prominent presentation in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with picture of mangrove restoration on its front page, which illustrates its importance in recent climate change efforts.
The Global Ocean Commission commissioned the study to help inform its inquiry into the role of the high seas in the wider health of the ocean and the relative value of the many services provided. Co-chair of the Commission Trevor Manuel said: “This study makes that which used to be out of sight/out of mind visible and we can now more obviously see and assess what we stand to lose if we do not take measures to protect the high seas and govern them effectively to preserve vital ecosystem…
These rates of carbon sequestration and storage are comparable to and often higher than rates in carbon rich terrestrial ecosystems such as tropical rainforests or peat-lands. Unlike most terrestrial systems, deposition of carbon dioxide in coastal ecosystem sediment can continue over millennia.
As we make our increasingly bold statements about the importance of mangrove biomass — or indeed around any ecosystem services — it is so important that we have the numbers to back up our claims. Until this paper, the best we could in most places was provide a global average number. “A typical mangrove has 152 tonnes of aboveground biomass per hectare,” we might say.
When it comes to soils, we’re still struggling with the models a bit, but the story is equally compelling. Most mangrove forests lay down peat — thick, heavy layers of carbon-rich soil that stays waterlogged and doesn’t rot.
That doesn’t sound at all convincing whether you are standing at the foot of canopy giant in Berau, Indonesia, or indeed on the margins of straggly community of mangrove shrubs in the desert margins of the Middle East.