Sri Lanka’s Mangroves

CNN has a story up today about the importance of, and efforts to conserve, the mangrove forests in Sri Lanka. The article features some nice photojournalism as well.

From the article:

Education is key as mangroves play a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s — and the world’s — coastal ecosystem that extends far beyond the aesthetics they bring to a boat tour. They provide critical shelter for young fish (replenishing coral reefs and fisheries, thus facilitating the livelihood of Sri Lankans who fish for a living) and sequester up to 50 times more carbon dioxide than other kinds of forests, making them indispensable in combating climate change.

They also act as a buffer against tropical storms, reducing damage to coastal communities. (Some studies have shown that areas with more substantial mangrove forests fared better during the 2004 tsunami than did communities without them.) But for all their virtues, mangroves are also at risk, having been dangerously depleted in recent decades thanks in large part to the country’s shrimp-farming industry.

Various members of my research group have been in discussions exploring the use of systems like mangrove forests as a coastal defence option for some time, both at Cambridge and in Liverpool. It’s now made it into our undergraduate curriculum/seminars as well.