Mangrove forests are naturally resilient, having withstood severe storms and changing tides for many millenia. But until recently, mangrove forests had been classified by many governments and industries alike as "wastelands," or useless swamps. This mistaken view has made it easier to exploit mangrove forests as cheap and unprotected sources of land and water.
Unsustainable developments contributing to extensive mangrove losses worldwide include:
- shrimp aquaculture
- charcoal production and logging
- oil exploration and extraction
- urbanization and urban expansion
- ports and roads
Mangrove deforestation is contributing to:
- fisheries declines
- threats to migratory bird species
- degradation of clean water supplies
- salinization of coastal soils
- erosion and land subsidence
- release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
Today, less than half the world's original mangrove forest cover remains. As much as 50% percent of mangrove destruction in recent years has been due to clear cutting for shrimp farms.
Blame for such extensive mangrove loss, in general, goes to:
- unregulated and unsustainable developments
- lack of clear understanding and recognition of the importance of mangroves
- lack of law enforcement and monitoring to protect from illegal encroachment
Mangrove forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world. They may be disappearing more quickly than inland tropical rainforests, and so far, with little public notice.