Mangroves, commonly found along sheltered coastlines in the tropics and subtropics, fulfil important socio-economic and environmental functions: providing wood and non-wood forest products, protecting shores against wind, waves and water currents; conserving biological diversity; protecting coral reefs, sea-grass beds and shipping lanes against siltation; and providing habitat, spawning grounds and nutrients for a variety of fish and shellfish, including many commercial species.
High population pressure in coastal areas has, however, led to the conversion of many mangrove areas to other uses. The world's mangroves 1980-2005, prepared in the framework of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, provides comprehensive information on the current and past extent of mangroves in all countries and territories in which they exist. This information, as well as the gaps in information that come to light in The World's Mangroves 1980-2005, will assist mangrove managers and policy – and decision-makers worldwide in ensuring the conservation, management and sustainable use of the world's remaining mangrove ecosystems.
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