Friday, April 15, 2011

World Atlas of Mangroves: A Book Review

World Atlas of Mangroves: A Book Review

By: Gabriel Thoumi, April 14, 2011

Because recent research has shown that it is often the case that mangroves store more carbon than tropical forests--from 90 tons to 588 tons carbon from above-ground and below-ground biomass combined with net primary productivity of 7 to 25 tons carbon annually (1)--while providing an estimated ecosystem services value of up to US$ 9270 per hectare per year (2), the timely publication of the World Atlas of Mangroves is an excellent reference for those of us working to protect mangroves globally. With information sourced from 1400 literature references, the atlas gives the reader the information they need so as to further understand mangrove ecosystems, and the opportunities to develop mangrove ecosystem conservation and carbon projects.

This easy-to-use atlas includes global and regional maps demonstrating mangrove species richness, location, and conservation strategies, including carbon sequestration quantities for all 73 species of mangroves. These maps also represent visually protected areas overlaid with the existing mangrove estate. Finally, each regional section contains excellent analysis on regional mangrove issues including a measured discussion of the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on villages that had protected their mangroves compared with villages that had not protected their mangroves.

The atlas further provides momentum to protecting our global mangrove estate given the recent announcement that Restore America's Estuaries is developing a mangrove carbon methodology, in conjunction with Verified Carbon Standard. This proposed carbon accounting methodology is focusing on quantifying and crediting the greenhouse gas benefits of several types of wetlands conservation projects including mangroves and coastal and tidal wetlands.

In fact, in a recent report by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and wetland specialists ESA PWA, "Of the 15 coastal deltas studied for the report, seven were found to have released more than 500 million tons of CO2 each since the wetlands were drained, mostly in the past 100 years. By comparison, Mexico's carbon dioxide emissions for 2007 were just over 470 million tonnes." This type of ecosystem loss has led NASA to announce a large grant to study wetlands loss in Bangladesh and for the Government of Guyana to award $100 million Guyanese dollars to Guyana’s Mangrove Restoration Project.

With the global mangrove estate in 123 countries impacting fisheries, biodiversity and species conservation, coastal zone development and protection, and climate change mitigation, it is important that our conservation community work with our business community and indigenous and local communities to develop equitable opportunities for carbon and conservation finance funds to protect our global mangrove estate that we depend on daily. Because the greatest threat to mangroves is arising from conversion and land clearing for aquaculture and agriculture ( food production and palm oil food production and palm oil), and land conversion to urban uses (growth of cities), it is clear that in the 21st century, the destruction of our Earth’s mangroves could potentially complicate global food security while impacting sustainable growth of our urban areas. This furthermore strengthens our needed resolve to today begin to develop carbon projects on mangroves properties so that we can mitigate climate change while developing sustainable coastal zone management policies in the 21st century.

How to order
By Mark Spalding, Mami Kainuma, and Lorna Collins
Hardcover: 319 Pages, $99.95
Publisher: Earthscan Publications
June 2010

(1) Komiyama, A., J.E. Ong & S. Poungparn, 2008. Allometry, biomass and productivity of mangrove forests: a review. Aquatic Botany 89(2): 128-137.

(2) In the front line. Shoreline protection and other ecosystem services from mangroves and coral reefs. UNEP-WCMC Biodiversity Series 24 (Volume 2006) - Wells, S., Ravilious, C., Corcoran, E., UNEP-WCMC

Gabriel Thoumi, Project Developer, Forest Carbon Offsets LLC, provides forest carbon project development and sustainable finance consulting integrating both the carbon and capital markets. He has consulted on 20 forest carbon projects globally applying multiple forest carbon standards and methodologies, and he frequently lectures and publishes on the same topics globally.