The Importance of Mangroves
by Chuck Gestefield on Apr 12, 2018
In Florida, we have three species of mangroves: red, black and white. Red mangroves are known for their highly adaptive prop and drop root systems. These roots not only provide habitat for wildlife, but also aid in protecting our coastal shorelines by holding substrate back during times of tidal events. MANG habitats provide a multitude of resources for a variety of birds, fish, and crustacean species. 75% of all coastal species start life in the estuary. Mangrove forests serve as barriers by protecting our shorelines from storm surges and the everyday elements of Mother Nature.
Why are Mangroves important? Without the help from ancient mangroves, it is said that Florida’s coastlines would have been shaped much differently. Mangroves provide all the essential nutrients to start life in the estuary. The leaves and bark that drop into the water break down into what scientists call detritus. This detritus kick-starts the food cycle for bacteria, phytoplankton, zooplankton, crustaceans and shellfish.
Mangrove swamps are the most bio-diverse and productive environments on earth. Worldwide mangrove ecosystems are on the decline, and without a healthy abundance of mangrove ecosystems, our estuarine systems will begin to suffer. Due to coastal development, shrimp farming and basic needs for human survival, mangrove populations are suffering worldwide. Human intervention and a basic need to educate have begun to turn the tide by helping repopulate worldwide mangrove ecosystems.