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Mangroves: universal protection for coasts, the climate and the environment

Coastal villages in the Mekong delta are suffering more and more from flooding due to climate change, particularly, where the mangrove forests have disappeared.

Thanks to their dense tangle of roots, mangrove trees are ideally suited for the protection of tropical coasts. Even a strip of mangroves that is only 100 metres wide makes a decisive difference in breaking the destructive force of storms or even tsunamis.

Mangroves afford universal protection. They not only slow down storms, they also slow down the erosion caused by sea levels that are gradually rising due to global warming. They absorb and store three to five times as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere compared to land-based forests. Therefore, mangroves are highly effective in reducing the greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere.

In addition, these coastal forests are a nutrient-rich habitat and breeding ground for countless species of fish, crustaceans and other organisms. Thus, they help conserve biodiversity and form an important source of food and income for people living close to them.

At the moment mangrove forests still cover about 15 million hectares of land along the tropical coasts. However, in many regions their continued existence is threatened by logging.

Together with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and various other non-governmental organisations, the BMZ launched a new mangrove protection initiative in 2017. Knowledge about these special habitats, which up until now has been scattered across various places, will be brought together centrally, and there will be efforts to apply best practices of mangrove protection.

Successful interventions

As part of a programme for "Integrated coastal management in the Mekong Delta", the BMZ is supporting some initial pilot projects in Viet Nam for the reafforestation of mangrove forests. The successes that have been achieved are so impressive that the Vietnamese authorities and international organisations are now using the same methods to protect other endangered coastlines. A detailed description of the programme in German can be found here.


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