Mangrove forests in the Indo-Pacific region could be completely under water by 2070, threatening fisheries, coastal protection and furthering climate change, researchers at the University of Queensland (Australia) warn.
Yet, the outlook in other parts of the world are more positive as “our modelling shows mangroves are likely to persist in east Africa, the Bay of Bengal, eastern Borneo and north-western Australia,” lead researcher Queensland University Professor of Biological Sciences, Catherine Lovelock, said on Thursday.
Even accounting for lower-than-expected sea level rises, Lovelock’s modelling of data from an international network of 27 sites, published in the scientific journal Nature on Thursday, shows intertidal mangroves in Thailand, parts of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands will be submerged within the next 45 years.
Lovelock says this is alarming as the Indo-Pacific region holds most of the world’s mangrove forests.
The submerging of mangroves could have a significant economic effect with some forests valued at US$194,000 per hectare per year for their ecosystem services to fisheries, coastal protection and carbon sequestration, Lovelock said.
Lovelock says areas with wetland soil maintenance and the accretion of sediment do have the potential capacity to avoid inundation and keep-pace with sea level rise, however management plans in the most affected areas are urgently required.
Forest degradation in the Indo-Pacific region must also be reversed because it has reduced the organic inputs to soils that are vital for mangrove survival, Lovelock said. (Xinhua)