Mangrove Planting for Climate Change

mangrove

 

Mangrove as a tool in addressing climate change gained prominence after the East Asia Tsunami in 2004. The tsunami generated in the Indian Ocean, ravaged coastal communities facing the Indian Ocean taking many lives and damaging infrastructure worth a lot of money.

Anecdotal evidence show that villages situated behind mangroves stands, sustain less damage when compared to those communities without mangrove barriers.

In the absence of technological intervention, Climate Change Experts identify mangroves as the first protection for coastal villages facing coastal flooding and extreme high tide.  Mangrove projects can be easily implemented by communities. Mangrove planting and rehabilitation costs less than other technological interventions and has been shown to be effective in saving lives and property.

What makes mangroves special?

Like any other tree species, the mangroves take 10-15 years to mature before they can provide the desired effect. Mature stands of mangrove act like a porous fence that slows down wave energy by reducing the velocity of the waves into and out of communities resulting in less damage infrastructure and livelihood.

 

Mangrove planting or mangrove forest rehabilitation must be approached as a long term strategy with the goal of ensuing planted and or rehabilitated mangrove stands become mature stands in the future.

Current practice involves planting of plant mangrove seedling in areas already under threat from the rising sea level. Numerous mangrove replanting exercise have never attained the envisaged success – this is despite the common  knowledge that young mangroves at waterfront are vulnerable to wave action and are easily uprooted and killed by the sun and the salt.

Ideally a mangrove replanting exercise should duplicate a vegetation succession as happens in nature.

Vegetation succession at a beach normally starts from the forest edge and gradually grows seaward.

Firstly, pioneer species like vines and grasses grow first to help build a soil environment suited for succession to take place. Then the trees, starting with the terrestrial species at the forest edge. Once this has established then the back mangrove species is the next to germinate, followed by the middle mangrove species then finally, the front line mangrove species facing the foreshore.

Re-vegetation through succession enables the plants to gradually adapt to a salty growing substrate and increases their chances of survival.

The process of natural succession takes years, the same will apply to a successful mangrove planting project.

The communities that survived the East Asia Tsunami in 2004, did not plant their mangrove stands the year prior to the tsunami. The mangrove stands have existed and protected, probably not intentionally, but importantly , the mangrove stands provided the needed protection.

While waiting for the mangrove forest to grow , the most cost effective climate change activity is educating people about the impending crises and the options available for adapting to the change.  Local people do have solutions for their challenges. They must be involved in the quest for a solution.

For the donors who fund mangrove projects, they  must realize that the impact of mangrove planting can only be realized in the future. Therefore they must  look for other targets to measure how their funds in the short term  is successfully addressing the climate change challenge.

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5 Comments

  1. May 13, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Just read green lizards blog on how Holland protects its coast with green wetlands which are now Green spaces for folk to enjoy.

    • May 14, 2015 at 1:49 am

      Creative thinking in re-purposing green wetlands into a space with aesthetic value. Great. For my country PNG, any green space must also be re-purposed so it provides other benefits as well. Aesthetic value is bottom of the list, food production is way up at the top. Life is about survival. Not everyone has access to a super market. Food from gardens cannot be stored for a long time. Looking for food is a daily chore. Securing food source and climate change adaptation and mitigation will always be parallel projects.

      • May 14, 2015 at 9:22 am

        Agree it would be hard but if Holland didn’t protect its coastline it would be underwater now as the main country is has always been below sea level. It seems to me that wild spaces that can flood from time to time can help mitigate adverse weather and provide biodiversity. This would then protect land for food in other areas. Not sure supermarkets are what’s needed just regular supply of nutritious food. Here big supermarkets can put local and sustainable growers out of business. Good luck and hope the rest of the world can support in mitigating climate change.

  2. May 13, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    […] Source: Mangrove as a tool in addressing climate change | Emnaupng’s Blog […]


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