How Mangrove Forests Help Mitigate Storm Damage
by Nick Hammond on Feb 22, 2022
Mangrove forests are an important natural barrier that helps protect coastal areas from storm damage. Mangroves provide a wide range of benefits that reduce the impacts of hurricanes, storm surges, flooding, and erosion on shorelines and coastal communities. Here are some of the key ways mangroves provide protection:
Absorb Wave Energy
The dense root systems of mangrove trees are extremely effective at absorbing the energy of waves and storm surges. As waves pass through the tangled roots, they lose energy and their force and height are reduced. The roots cause friction which dissipates the energy and motion of the water. Large storm surges can be reduced by over 50% as they flow through mangrove forests. This protects inland areas from severe flooding, allowing the water to drain away more gradually. Mangrove roots also stabilize sediments, preventing erosion of sand or soil during storms. This helps coastal lands retain their elevation and contour even after major weather events.
Reduce Wind Speeds
Mangrove trees act as an excellent natural windbreak, reducing wind speeds from storms as they approach land. The leaves, branches, and trunks of mangroves disrupt winds, decreasing their velocity and intensity before they impact shorelines and communities. Wind speed reductions of 25-50% have been measured behind mangrove forests. This is because the forests create a dense barrier and the vegetation creates drag, slowing down wind flows. Lower wind speeds mean less damage to shoreline structures and inland buildings and infrastructure. Roofs, windows, and other assets are less likely to be damaged by debris or high winds if mangrove forests are present.
The intricate root systems of mangroves are highly effective at stabilizing sediments and soil, preventing erosion during major storms and flooding. The roots trap and hold particles, keeping sediments in place. They also accumulate sediments washed in from rivers and the ocean, allowing shorelines to build up elevation over time. Mangroves prevent land loss from erosion, maintaining intact shorelines in areas where they thrive. The stored sediments provide a buffer that makes mangrove areas more resilient to rising sea levels over the long term. Healthy mangrove ecosystems can accrete enough sediment to keep pace with moderate sea level rise.
Provide Habitat for Wildlife
In addition to coastal protection benefits, mangrove forests are a habitat and breeding ground for many species of marine life, birds, and other wildlife. They provide nurseries for commercially important fisheries. Mangrove ecosystems support biodiversity and enhance the overall environmental health of shorelines. Their presence indicates robust ecological communities both on shore and offshore. Maintaining mangrove forests preserves the many ecosystem services they provide. Their biodiversity and productivity contribute to the resilience of coastal environments to storms and climate change.
Protecting and restoring mangrove forests is an important resiliency strategy for coastal communities vulnerable to storms, flooding, and erosion. Mangroves provide a natural, sustainable, and cost-effective approach to reducing storm damage. Their preservation should be a priority for coastal resource management and climate adaptation plans.
When you purchase from MANG you join a movement of people who are banded together to protect, preserve and restore our ecosystems. The future depends upon stewards like you stepping up to the cause to protect our Earth today.