By: D M Alongi
Tropical mangrove forests are disappearing at an alarming rate, despite their importance in sustaining livelihoods for many people living along some of the world's most populous coastlines. Mangrove forests occupy a crucial place between land and sea, being a valuable ecological and economic resource. These ecosystems are nursery grounds and breeding sites for organisms and a source of wood, traditional foods and medicines. They are accumulation sites for sediment, contaminants, carbon and nutrients, offering protection against coastal erosion.
An overview is presented of mangrove forest ecosystems; how they live and grow at the edge of tropical seas and play a critical role along most of the world's tropical coasts, including their future in a world of climate change. Such an approach is necessary in order to further understand the role of these dynamic forests in ecosystem function, and as a first step towards developing adequate strategies for their conservation and sustainable use and management.
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