Mangrove forests are among the most productive ecosystems on earth. They provide a variety of ecological and socio-economic services benefitting millions of people living in coastal areas. Mangrove ecosystems are important nursery and feeding habitats for many marine and coastal species and a major source of food and income for coastal communities. Well-managed, healthy mangrove forests also protect the coastlines from storm surges and flooding.
Mangroves have significant carbon storage potential, sequestering carbon and storing it in the soil below, sometimes for thousands of years. The storage of this ‘blue carbon’ makes mangroves a critical ally in the fight against climate change, the harsh consequences of which have already been felt in the past few decades in the form of increasing global temperatures and accelerated sea level rise. These effects ultimately contribute to an increase in extreme weather events and the occurrence of natural disasters, such as cyclones and severe flooding, with the majority of people affected residing in low-income coastal areas.
Unfortunately, the world is losing its mangrove forests at an alarming rate. The loss of mangroves in Asia is nearly double the global average with more than 250,000ha lost between 2000 and 2012. Although mangrove forests represent less than 1% of tropical forest area globally, they account for up to 10% of all emissions from deforestation.
The main cause of mangrove deforestation and degradation across the region is clearing for other land uses such as shrimp farming, rice cultivation and palm oil plantations. Overharvesting of trees for use as firewood and for charcoal production is another significant cause.
The capacity of mangroves to capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is becoming increasingly recognised at an international level, with several global initiatives setting out to reverse the trend of climate change through mitigation approaches that harness the unique capabilities of mangroves.
One such approach is Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), which aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
REDD+ creates a financial value for the carbon stored in forests. When countries better manage and protect forests, as well as provide sustainable development opportunities for local forest communities, forest loss can be reduced. Carbon dioxide that would have been emitted into the atmosphere if the forests had been cleared remains stored in the standing trees. Once verified through the REDD+ mechanism, countries can receive financial payments for these reduced emissions.
With support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), MFF has initiated a new component aimed at including mangrove forests more consistently into national REDD+ strategies and processes. During a one-year inception phase, from October 2017 to September 2018, MFF will work with member countries to identify opportunities for using MFF governance platforms and frameworks to support national and local priority efforts, with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through better management and protection of mangrove forests in accordance with the REDD+ framework and guidelines. The inception phase is intended to result in a proposal to Norad for a multi-year pilot project to implement prioritised ecosystem-based climate change mitigation interventions in select countries, with a particular emphasis on utilising the high carbon-sequestration capacity of mangrove forests.
Further information about Norad’s support to this component of the MFF Programme can be found here.
Click the image below to view the IUCN Forests photo story on mangroves: Mangroves against the storm.
Mangroves for the Future (MFF) is a partnership-based regional initiative which promotes investment in coastal ecosystem conservation for sustainable development. MFF focuses on the role that healthy, well-managed coastal ecosystems play in building the resilience of ecosystem-dependent coastal communities in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. The initiative uses mangroves as a flagship ecosystem, but MFF is inclusive of all types of coastal ecosystem, such as coral reefs, estuaries, lagoons, sandy beaches, sea grasses and wetlands. MFF is co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP, and is funded by Danida, Norad, and Sida and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Thailand.
The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) is a specialised directorate under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Norad’s functions are laid down in the agency’s terms of reference and annual letters of allocation issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The majority of Norwegian development assistance is administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Norwegian foreign missions. MFF is financed principally by Norad and Sida with substantial contributions from its core partners and from the private sector.