Mangrove forests are among the most threatened coastal habitats, mainly in developing countries in tropical regions.
The mangrove forest covers around 75% of the tropical coastline. It has an ecological role because it protects the coastline from erosion, an economic role thanks to the fishing activity it hosts, and a sociological role for coastal populations.
It also has an essential role in the carbon cycle due to its ability to transform the CO2 in the atmosphere into organic matter and store it in its soil full of water.
Annual carbon sequestration by mangroves
There is no question that mangrove wood and soils around the world have accumulated significant quantities of carbon since they started to grow. Mean values range from 50 metric tons of carbon per acre in delta settings to as much as 220 metric tons per acre in carbonate coastlines.
For the purpose of curbing climate change, the most important question is how much carbon an ecosystem sequesters each year, mitigating carbon emissions produced from human activities such as burning fossil fuels.
Blue carbon is simply the term for carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems. You have probably heard that human activities emit (or give off) something called carbon dioxide, which contains atmospheric carbon.
You have also heard that these gases are changing the world’s climate, and not in a good way. What you may not have heard is that our ocean and coasts provide a natural way of reducing the impact of greenhouse gases on our atmosphere, through sequestration (or taking in) of this carbon.
Carbon sequestration by mangrove forests is the amount of carbon that accumulates in wood or soils each year and remains stockpiled there, isolated from the atmosphere. In total, the world’s mangroves sequester about 24 million metric tons of carbon in soil per year.
Sri Lanka – The case of Muthurajawela
An estimated 76% of mangrove forests were disappeared from Sri Lanka over the past 100 years and remains only about 8,800 ha of mangrove forests islandwide. (refer credits and link)
We just concluded a tour on Muthurajawela and Negombo lagoon wetland complex which is a diverse mangrove ecosystem located in rapidly developing urban area near economic capital of Sri Lanka.
Muthurajawela makes it an extremely vulnerable ecosystem which is being rapidly degraded by unplanned or unauthorized development activities and other detrimental activities by both private and public sectors.
Muthurajawela houses 102 species of birds, 198 species of Flora and fauna,
42 species of fish, 18 species of reptiles..and the list goes on according to the Rainforest Protectors Jayantha Wijesinghe.
Whilst fighting the climate change with CO2 absorption Muthurajawela plays many roles in preserving the coastline to saving Colombo from floods.
Are we protecting Muthurajawela?
No! We are rather damaging in many ways. Here are the major threats we witnessed but there are more human activity destroying this world treasure.
- Destroying the mangroves, converting the wet lands to dry-lands.
- Planting coconuts and other palm verities.
- Garbage dumping, seepage to the wetland
- Unauthorized buildings
- Commercial activity – damaging the habitat and the wetlands
Muthurajawela visit is a worthy day trip around Colombo. Following community organization conduct great day trips. Do it with you kids. Contact: Muthurajawela Visitor Center , 011 483 0150 , Bopitiya Pamungama.