Reportage: The Quiet Achievers

 

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Mangroves
©Ibrahim Shabil

 

Mangrove forests protect us from storms, suck up carbon from the atmosphere, provide a safe haven for endangered creatures and livelihoods for many millions of people. Around 70 species cover more than 150,000 km2 in 118 tropical and sub-tropical countries. As we celebrate the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem on July 26, it’s a timely reminder that mangroves are one of our best allies in the fight against climate change - yet we are doing nowhere near enough to protect them.

 

Mangroves 2
©GCCA+ Mangrove Biodiversity Monitoring System in Suriname (Nickerie), Harvey Lisse

 

The scale of destruction is alarming. Up to half the world’s mangrove forests have been lost in the past 40 years. The global annual rate of loss continues at around 2.1%. Urban development, deforestation, rising sea levels, industrial aquaculture and erosion have all taken their toll. That’s why protecting mangroves is a top priority for the European Union’s flagship climate change programme, the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA+).

 

cuba
©GCCA+, Mundo Latino Cuba

 

From women entrepreneurs in Guyana to the Belize ‘Marvellous Mangroves’ schools campaign, from Resiliencia Costera in Cuba to Bangladesh’s greenbeltcoastal afforestation programme, EU-funded projects are protecting and enhancing the lives of millions of people.

 

 

 

 

“Mangroves have enormous capacity for absorbing and retaining carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases - and that’s most critical in todays climate crisis,” says Professor Benjamin Horton, Director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore and co-author of a recent report on the threats to the world’s mangroves. “Projects and policies designed to use coastal ecosystems to reduce vulnerability can also achieve other societal, environmental, and economic goals.”

 

 

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Suriname
©GCCA+ Mangrove Biodiversity Monitoring System in Suriname (Nickerie), Harvey Lisse