International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem
Mangroves are rare, spectacular and prolific ecosystems on the boundary between land and sea. These extra ordinary ecosystems contribute to the wellbeing, food security, and protection of coastal communities worldwide. They support a rich biodiversity and provide a valuable nursery habitat for fish and crustaceans. Mangroves also act as a form of natural coastal defense against storm surges, tsunamis, rising sea levels and erosion. Their soils are highly effective carbon sinks, sequestering vast amounts of carbon.
Yet mangroves are disappearing three to five times faster than overall global forest losses, with serious ecological and socio-economic impacts. Current estimates indicate that mangrove coverage has been divided by two in the past 40 years.
UNESCO is engaged deeply in supporting the conservation of mangroves, while advancing the sustainable development of their local communities. The inclusion of mangroves in Biosphere Reserves, World Heritage sites and UNESCO Global Geoparks contributes to improving the knowledge, management and conservation of mangrove ecosystems throughout the world.
The International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2015 and celebrated each year on 26 July, aims to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems as “a unique, special and vulnerable ecosystem" and to promote solutions for their sustainable management, conservation and uses.
"The health of humans has always depended on the health of the planet, but in today’s changing world, the importance of mangrove ecosystems is all too clear. Yet it is estimated that some countries lost more than 40% of their mangroves between 1980 and 2005, often due to coastal development. (...) We are working to protect mangroves and to better support scientific research into these environments. However, we cannot do this alone. We also need you."
— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem 2021
"Let us take action. Despite their immense importance to our own wellbeing, there is still a lot to do in order to stop the continuous loss of mangrove habitats. Based on science, with the support of environmental education and community involvement, we must conserve, restore and promote the sustainable use of mangrove ecosystems. Strengthening coastal UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and establishing new ones is a way to keep what we have and restore what we have lost."
— Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, on the occasion of the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem 2020
Did you know?
- Mangroves are extraordinary ecosystems, located at the interface of land and sea in tropical regions, which offer a considerable array of ecosystem goods and services.
- Although they are found in 123 nations and territories, mangrove forests are globally rare. They represent less than 1% of all tropical forests worldwide, and less than 0.4% of the total global forest estate.
- Mangroves are disappearing three to five times faster than overall global forest losses, with serious ecological and socio-economic impacts.
Mangroves contribute to the wellbeing, food security, and protection of coastal communities worldwide.
- These forested wetlands are rich in biodiversity. They support complex communities, where thousands of other species interact. They provide a valuable nursery habitat for fish and crustaceans; a food source for monkeys, deer, birds, even kangaroos; and a source of nectar for honeybees.
- Managing and restoring mangrove ecosystems is an achievable and cost effective way to help ensure food security for many coastal communities.
- UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves offer a unique blueprint to protect mangrove ecosystems. In these areas, UNESCO is committed to implementing science-based solutions in coordination with local and indigenous communities, to support humanity’s ability to cope with socio-ecological change. In this way, we are protecting mangrove forests across the globe – from the Ranong Biosphere Reserve in Thailand, to the Delta du Saloum Biosphere Reserve in Senegal, via the Marawah Biosphere Reserve in the United Arab Emirates.
Mangroves play a role in climate mitigation.
- Mangrove ecosystems are highly effective carbon sinks, sequestering vast amounts of carbon within the soil, leaves, branches, roots, etc.
- One hectare of mangrove can store 3,754 tons of carbon; it’s the equivalent of taking 2,650+ cars off the road for one year.
- If destroyed, degraded or lost these coastal ecosystems become sources of carbon dioxide. Experts estimate that carbon emissions from mangrove deforestation account for up to 10% of emissions from deforestation globally, despite covering just 0.7% of land coverage.
- UNESCO marine World Heritage sites host 9% of global mangrove carbon assets.
Mangroves act as a natural coastal defense against storm surges, tsunamis, rising sea levels and erosion.
- Mangroves play an important role in reducing vulnerability to natural hazards and increasing resilience to climate change impacts.
- A 500-meter mangrove strip reduces wave heights in 50 to 99%.