Florida’s Mangroves Are Important
People value mangroves because they assist Florida’s shoreline environment remains stable and preventing erosion. Mangroves protect neighboring populated areas from corrosion and the effects of storm surges during significant weather events like hurricanes by acting as natural infrastructure.
Mangroves play a crucial role in ecology. Their extensive roots aid in tying and forming soils. Their above-ground roots increase sedimentation and water flow, lessening coastal erosion. Water quality flowing from rivers and streams into the estuary and ocean environment is improved by the intricate root systems of the mangrove trees, which filter nitrates, phosphates, and other contaminants from the water.
Massive volumes of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases are captured by mangrove forests, which trap and store them for millennia in their carbon-rich waterlogged soils. As we deal with climate change, this is an essential ecological service. Because it is deposited underwater in coastal ecosystems, including mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and salt marshes, this buried carbon is often called “blue carbon.”
Also, mangrove forests serve as a habitat and haven for various wildlife, including birds, fish, insects, mammals, and plants. Many sport and commercial fish species, including redfish, snook, and tarpons, spawn and grow up in estuarine ecosystems’ spawning and nursery grounds with coastal mangrove shorelines and tree roots. The mangrove branches serve as bird rookeries and nesting sites for coastal wading birds, including egrets, herons, cormorants, and roseate spoonbills. Red mangrove roots are perfect for oysters in some places because they can adhere to the part of the roots that hang into the water. At some point in their life cycles, endangered species such as the smalltooth sawfish, manatee, hawksbill sea turtle, Key deer, and Florida panther depend on this environment.
People can enjoy outdoor activities like birdwatching, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddle boarding, and the therapeutic serenity and relaxation from spending quiet time in nature thanks to mangrove forests. As a nursery for commercial fish species, they also benefit local economies.
Mangrove forests face threats.
Unfortunately, several issues put mangrove ecosystems in danger. Mangrove erosion and habitat loss can be caused by human activity such as dredging, filling, water contamination from herbicides, and construction. Massive volumes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere when mangrove forests are cut and destroyed, causing climate change.
The restoration of red mangroves to the shoreline is a crucial component of our ongoing efforts to reestablish natural habitat at Blowing Rocks Preserve. Mangrove planting at our preserves is essential for preserving and restoring this priceless Florida asset. TNC continues to work for people and wildlife by protecting and restoring our significant forests from the Panhandle to the Keys.
Advantages of Mangroves
In collaboration with the University of California, Santa Cruz, and RMS, we produced a scientific study that quantified how well mangroves reduce the risk of flooding for people and property. According to the survey, mangroves serve as a powerful first line of defense for coastal communities and considerably lower yearly and catastrophic damages.
A team of scientists from the engineering, insurance, and conservation fields conducted the study Valuing The Flood Risk Reduction Benefits of Florida’s Mangroves, which concluded that mangroves in Florida prevented US $1.5 billion in direct flood damages and protected more than 500,000 people during Hurricane Irma in 2017, lowering injuries by almost 25% in counties with mangroves. Risks of flooding and storm surges to people and property are increasing due to coastal difficulties brought on by expanding populations, successful development, and climate change. Despite being a vulnerable species, mangroves significantly benefit these coastal areas regarding flood protection and risk reduction.