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The Role of Mangroves in Mitigating Carbon Emissions

Coastal vegetation like mangroves can store carbon more efficiently. / Photo by: Getty Images

 

The threats brought by global warming and climate change are becoming more extreme as years pass by. These phenomena can be seen affecting humankind, millions of species, and our planet. One of the most contributors to this is the carbon emissions. In fact, an article by the Department of Energy - Philippines, 32.5 gigatons of carbon emissions was reported globally last year. While this number is quite surprising, it seems inevitable since the demand for global energy rose to 14,050 million tonnes of oil.

Unfortunately, this just shows that efforts in mitigating carbon emissions in our environment are far from sufficient. The International Energy Agency revealed that the Asian countries are the greatest contributors for this increase. In fact, China has been reported to give 9.1 gigatons of emissions last 2017. With this being said, the journey of making sure that the planet is a safe place to live is still a long way. But if humans continue to nourish coastal vegetation, we will have a great fight in combatting global warming and climate change. 

The Global Status of Carbon Emissions

Carbon emissions contribute to the status of global greenhouse emissions, along with methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. For the past decades, there has been an increase of concentrations in these gases in the atmosphere which remains there from a few years to thousands of years. Unfortunately, the greenhouse emissions are effective in making the planet warmer and "thickening the Earth's blanket." 

But how do humans contribute a lot in producing carbon emissions? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, human activities that we do daily are causing these emissions. For instance, people mostly use electricity at home, which depends on the power plants to generate. Driving cars, burning oil, and using electricity for natural gas, coal and oil are some of the major contributors.

Several economic sectors are also behind the abundance of carbon emissions, or the greenhouse gases in general. About 25% came from electricity and heat production through the burning of coal, natural, and oil. And heat is the largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Another 24% are from agriculture, forestry, and other land use. About 14% of greenhouse emission is being produced by road, rail, air, and marine transportation. And 195% of the world's transportation energy came from largely gasoline, diesel, and petroleum-based fuels. 

The Importance of Coastal Vegetation

Fortunately, the solutions to these global problems can also be found in our mother nature. The coastal vegetation is typically found in various marine and coastal ecological systems around the world. It has greatly adapted to conditions of wind, flooding, salinity, and other factors specific to coastal areas. Additionally, coastal vegetation can be in several forms such as rocky coasts, mangroves, marshes and coastal water bodies such as brackish, salty or briny lagoons.

According to the Mackay Regional Council, coastal vegetation plays a major role in the global fight against global warming and climate change. It stabilizes the surface against wind erosion and provides habitat for wildlife. At the same time, coastal dunes can be helpful in preventing coastal hazards such as wave overtopping, wind erosion, and tidal inundation during storm events. During periods of erosion, coastal vegetation can also be beneficial in replenishing the beach. This is why valuing and protecting coastal vegetation is essential for the long-term protection of beachfront properties.

Moreover, humans should understand the necessity of keeping coastal areas in their natural state. It will be beneficial against climate change or global warming, and mitigating carbon emissions across the globe. 

Mangroves as Mitigators of Carbon Emissions

The benefits of coastal vegetation such as mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes extend a long way. In fact, these coastal areas can be the most effective habitats in mitigating carbon emissions. 

According to the Science Daily, utilizing our natural ecosystems can be very beneficial in achieving a carbon-neutral environment in the future. A study conducted by Pierre Taillardat, Daniel A. Friess, and Massimo Lupascu entitled "Mangrove blue carbon strategies for climate change mitigation are most effective at the national scale," they found out that our ecosystems can actually counteract fossil fuel emissions. 

Mangroves can grow fast and has the ability to accumulate organic carbon in the water-saturated soil that surrounds it, that's why they are effective in storing carbon more efficiently. The researchers concluded that to combat the effects of global warming and climate change, humans must restore and conserve coastal vegetations like mangroves. 

Associate Professor Daniel Friess from the NUS Department of Geography further explained, "Mangrove restoration does not have to be difficult. If done correctly, it takes only a few years to begin growing a forest of new trees. By creating conditions that are similar to those found in a natural forest, for example, the right amount of tidal flooding, it is possible to expand mangrove habitats and soak up more carbon."

 

According to a study, humans must conserve mangroves to prevent global warming. / Photo by: PaylessImages via 123rf

 

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