Amidst the recent natural calamity that hit the Philippines (via the destructive typhoon Haiyan), the role of the mangroves came into the spotlight. Environmental experts have always pointed to the diminishing trees in the country caused by illegal logging which they said contribute to the soil erosion and the heavy floods that commonly occur during the rainy and typhoon season.
It’s only recently, though, that the mangroves were given much attention owing to their protective function particularly in the coastal areas. While many of you are aware of what these are, not all know their real worth in the environment.
What are Mangroves?
Judging by their physical appearance, there’s no doubt that mangroves are trees. But they’re also considered a shrub, palm and a ground fern that grow in abundance along coastal areas notably in the tropics and subtropics.
Mangroves thrive in high saline and low oxygen environments and they have been in existencce for more than 50 milion years. Their habitats are sometimes referred to as a tidal forest in the same way as a rainforest owing to the different types of trees in the area.
On a global level, the Philippines ranks first for having the highest species diversity in a mangrove forest. Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia follow in the Top 4 list.
Their Role in Environmental Preservation
The main role of these mangroves is to protect the coastal areas from wave action thereby preventing coastal erosion. They hold the soil together and minimize the damage in the event of storm surges and tsunamis.
In addition to its protective role, mangroves also provide homes to different species of plants and animals. Some of these animals include the migratory shorebirds, fish, monkeys and even the endangered sea turtles. Fish, shrimp and crabs notably those living in the rivers and shallow waters of the sea and ocean rely on the mangroves for their food.
Types of Mangroves
Mangroves have different types as well. These are the black, red and white and in fact, they have many uses such as in building homes, furniture, creating household items as wel as transmission and telephone poles.
The black mangrove has many uses – for charcoal, fishing poles and would you believe, even for the production of honey. Wood from this type of mangrove is considered precious as it is used for burning clay which in turn is used to make bricks.
The red mangrove is also used for fuel wood. More importantly, though, it is used in the leather industry. The parts of the red mangrove tree used are its bark and tannin.
Finally, the white mangrove is used for making fishing poles, tool handles and as wood for fences.
Image via spotlightenglish