Mangroves are disappearing fast. Thirty-five percent of mangrove ecosystems disappeared between 1980 and 2000, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Shrimp farms have been a primary cause of mangrove loss, as well as urbanization and agriculture.
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Local communities depend on the forests for food, fuel, fishing, and medicine. Mangroves are also breeding grounds for many fish and centers of biodiversity.
Mangroves absorb an estimated 20 million metric tons of carbon each year, making them important in slowing global warming. Ironically, mangrove forests are threatened by rising sea levels and increasingly strong storms which result from a warmer climate.
Advances have been made towards creating ecologically sensitive shrimp farms in Ecuador, Vietnam, and other countries. They'll have to act quick before we realize our ecological bank account is even smaller.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons