Monday, February 4, 2008

UN: Mangrove Forests Vanishing at an "Alarming" Rate

ROME, Italy, February 3, 2008 (ENS) - The world has lost about 20 percent of its wetland mangrove forests since 1980, the United Nations said Thursday in a new report to mark World Wetlands Day, February 2. Mangroves are salt tolerant evergreen forests found along coastlines, lagoons, rivers or deltas in 124 tropical and subtropical countries and areas.

Environmental and economic damages caused by the "alarming" loss of mangroves in many countries should be urgently addressed, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, calling for better mangrove protection and management programs.
Heron rests in a mangrove forest in South Florida. (Photo courtesy USGS)
"Mangroves are important forested wetlands," said Wulf Killmann, director of FAO's Forest Products and Industry Division. "If deforestation of mangroves continues, it can lead to severe losses of biodiversity and livelihoods, in addition to salt intrusion in coastal areas and siltation of coral reefs, ports and shipping lanes. Tourism would also suffer."

"Countries need to engage in a more effective conservation and sustainable management of the world's mangroves and other wetland ecosystems," Killmann said. More >>>