Mangroves for sustainable welfare.
Mangroves are ecosystems which mainly consist of Rhizoporaceae family growing at coastal shorelines and wetlands and have halophyte characters because of their ability to live in salty conditions. Together with other tree families like Verbenaceae, Sonneratiaceae, and Aracaceae (palm family), mangrove ecosystems have very important roles in ecology and become irreplaceable habitat to many species fauna like birds, mammals, crustaceans, and fish.
Mangroves' irreplaceable Functions.
Mangroves have some major roles and give a lot of benefits to human social, cultural and economy activities.
- Mangroves' key role as a link between marine and terrestrial (land) ecosystems which provide and maintain stability for mangrove habitats as well as other coastal ecosystems for sea grass, and coral reefs.
- Supply food to various fish populations. Nutrients from mangroves which are carried by tidal currents also become food for marine microorganism in the first level of marine food chains.
- Mangrove diversity has 16-24 families with 54-75 species worldwide and it provides place for nursery, shelter, and food for almost 75% percent of tropical commercial fish species, crabs, shrimps, and molluscs.
- Mangroves are also prime nesting and migratory sites for hundreds of bird species. habitats of manatees, monkeys, monitor lizards, sea turtles, and mud-skipper fish.
- Protections from strong winds and waves. Buffer zone created by mangroves also help protect coastlines from storms, hurricanes, tidal waves, and minimize effects of tsunamis.
- Soil stabilization and erosion protection.
Mangrove intricated roots prevent shorelines from erosion by batching materials washed downstream. They stabilize land areas and balance sediment loss . This function is crucial for areas where their coastal forests have been cleared.
Where do Mangroves Grow ?
Mangroves geographically grow between the latitudes of 32°N and 38°S along the tropical and subtropical coasts of Asia, Africa, Australia, and Americas. They grow between intertidal and estuaries areas and they are categorized as halophyte due to their ability to live in waters with high salinity.
There are around 50 different species in 16 families of plants constituting mangroves, some species which dominate mangrove forests are Rhizophora sp, Avicennia sp, Sonneratia sp, Ceriops sp, Xylocarpus sp, and Lumnitzera sp
Mangrove trees grow following specific physiology adaptations to their environment. Rhizophora sp normally grow at outermost area of a mangrove ecosystem. They have stilt roots which enable them to stand the harsh waves. Avicennia sp and Sonneratia sp have breathing roots called pnematophore so that they can get oxygen amidst their brackish habitat. Another form of physiology adaptation takes place at Bruguiera sp which grow knee roots and Xylocarpus sp has long-winding roots. Both kinds of roots give those plants ability to uphold their trunks in muddy area as well as breathe oxygen needed for photosynthesis.
Countries with the largest mangrove areas are :
The world makes efforts in saving and conserving mangroves ecosystems through socialization, cultivation, replanting and reforestation.
One of the popular programs is by appointing public figures or celebrities to be the ambassador in mangrove conservation like what the Forestry Department has done by choosing Christiano Ronaldo, the soccer ball star from Real Madrid. He was chosen for his positive image and concern in nature conservation, specially in mangrove forest.
What happens if mangroves have gone ?
The earth and its creature will suffer big loss if we let mangrove disappear. Here are some severe conditions caused by the vanishing mangrove :
The balance of nature is disrupted. 220 fish species, 18 mammal species, 181 bird species depend their life on mangrove habitat and they will be affected by damaging mangrove. Fishermen will find it hard to catch fish and population of parasitic animals grow rapidly because their predator are not at their place anymore.
Mangrove is also the wealth place for various population of estuarine invertebrates. With more mangrove areas have been changed into other uses lake brackish fisheries, palm oil plantation,bernacles, sponges, mollusks, worms, shrimps, insects, crabs, and spiny lobsters will have no homes for their whole or part of life cycles.
Modern and intensified fisheries which do not include mangrove salvation in their programs, clear mangrove areas for their land and pond extensions. What they know from every hectare of land they clear, they will get 287 kg of fish and prawns every year but they must think twice about it. The research by Turner in 1997, described the impact of mangrove deforestation to the fishery that fish production loss per year is 480 kg/year caused by the clearance of every hectare of mangroves.
No mangroves-No Fish...
Less protection against natural disasters ......
Another role of mangrove is as buffer zones when disasters occur, like hurricane, tidal waves, tropical storms, and tsunamis. Mangroves face damaging waves and winds before the land do and they create frictions and dividing effects that lessen severe damages caused by waves and winds.
Tsunamis which took place in Aceh and Nias Island, Sumatra in the late 2004, supported with some researches emphasize the importance of shoreline mangrove forests in helping protect coastline areas from devastating tsunami. The research reported that shores which are grown with 15-cm-in-diameter mangroves of 200 m in thickness, and density of 30 trees/100m2
are able to absorb 50% of tsunami waves (Harada and Fumihiko, 2003). Anothor research on the role of mangroves in reducing waves conducted by Pratikno et al (2002) at Grajagan bay, Banyuwangi. The research resulted conclusion that sea waves with the height 1.09 m had been reduced to 0.73 m by the lumps of mangrove population growing at the coastlines and this result was also strengthened by another research made by Mazda and Wolanski in 1997.
Mangroves and Seawater Intrusions.
Mangroves also prevent sea water from intruding the lands. Shorelines with well grown mangroves will be able to avoid sea water to intrude land areas, whereas shorelines without mangroves suffer from the intrusion.
Mangroves and Health.
Population of Anopheles sp as the vector of malaria found more abundant in shore areas without mangroves (Rusminarto et, al. 1984) and according to Gunawan and Anwar (2005) water where mangroves do not grow has mercury (Hg) content 16 x higher than areas with mangroves.
Mangroves for Sustainable Social and Economy.
Mangroves when they are managed well can contribute to the welfare of people's social economy.
Firewood and charcoals:
The utilization of mangroves for firewood and charcoal productions have been sustainably practiced for years for both local and export markets. Woods from Rhizophoraceae like R. apiculata, R.mucronata make quality firewood for their high-long lasting calorie.
Construction materials :
Rhizophora apiculata, R. mucronata, and B.gymnorrhiza are known for their strong, long-lasting materials when they are used as construction wood. Construction materials using these woods are preferred for their long-straight posture and can stand for more than 50 years.
While from Nipah (Nipa fruticans) people can make durable roofs. Nipah has given a lot of economy supports to local people by making house roofs out of plaited nipah. More than 1000 housewives in Eastern Luwu-South Celebes make Nipah rooftops as craft work to support family's economy.
Mangroves for medications :
People have their local wisdom in using mangroves for medication and cosmetics. They use Rhizophora apiculata as astringent
Rhizophora mucronata is used to stop bleeding.
Water of boiled Ceriops tagal and Acanthus illicifolius are respectively used for wound antiseptics and diabetes medication.