Mangrove ecosystems fulfil important ecological functions and services...
They provide a nursery ground for many fish species and are a natural water filtration system. Mangroves also protect the community from storms and typhoons and help prevent coastal erosion.
National Park there are over 14 different mangrove species and many associated species that need the mangroves to survive.
The mangrove forests provide food and shelter for 30 – 40 economically valuable marine species including shrimp (eg. Penaeus monodon), crabs (eg. Scylla serrata) and molluscs (eg. Meretrix meretrix).
Mangroves on the move
Local communities are becoming more aware of the importance of mangroves, but economic pressure and population growth has already seen many hectares of mangrove forest cut down.
A lot of cleared area has been used for aquaculture ponds while people use the plants for firewood and furniture. Over the past 12 years the mature mangrove area has been reduced by more than 70 per cent.
In some areas, mangroves have been re-planted to provide protection from waves and seasonal typhoons. These afforested areas have been effective for storm protection.
However, usually only one species of mangrove (Kandelia obovata) was replanted, affecting the forest’s ability to be a productive ecosystem. Mangroves were also planted over mud flats which play an important role as a habitat for the migratory birds.
Recently there have been efforts to diversify the mangrove plantations as awareness about the importance of mature and diverse mangrove ecosystems has slowly increased.