Mangrove trees are a special flora species and a major contributor to the marine environment especially in conserved areas like Ramsar Site. The mangrove tree is a halophyte, a plant that thrives in salty conditions. It has the ability to grow where no other tree can, thereby making significant contributions that benefit the environment. They are trees which grow in tidal, coastal swamps and have countless tangled roots. Mangrove trees grow between the land and the water. Mangrove trees grow in soil which are really low in oxygen. Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand freezing temperatures.
Globally, there are 110 recognized species of plants classified as mangroves, belonging to 20 different families. In Ghana however, there are three main types of mangroves predominant around our shorelines. In Ghana, mangrove species are generally delineated based on the moisture of the soil and how well they have adapted to tolerating salt levels. Mangrove trees found in the Ghana are Red Mangroves (Avicennia) Black Mangroves, and White Mangroves.
Mangroves act as a buffer between land and sea. There is a general tendency of the sea to capture the land and global warming has increased this threat. Mangroves act like a barrier between the land and the sea and prevent such assaults on land by the sea. They help mark out the boundaries of lagoons and regulates the flow of air in lagoon water. Due to their proximity to the shore and coastal areas they provide an irreplaceable natural habitat for different species of birds, fishes and mammals. In Ghana, the Muni-Pomadze Ramsar Site has been the habitat of over 300 species of birds with about 60% being migratory birds. Mangroves protect the water quality and filter the unwanted material. They dissolve nutrients from the soil and the water thereby making their value to birdlife very imperative.
Mangroves Protect Land from Erosion. Coastlines throughout the world are facing coastal soil erosion. They not only help in preventing soil erosion but help in reclaiming the land from the sea. Mangroves also settle the sediments present on the shore with their tangled root system. Mangroves also provide shoreline protection. Mangroves protect the shorelines from storm damage, hurricane winds and floods. They maintain the water quality and also filter the pollutants. They trap the sediments and prevent them from entering the water. In conclusion, mangroves are integral part of ecological system hence provide lots of ecosystem service. It is vital that we all contribute to the growth of mangroves by nursing mangroves seedlings and further planting of mangroves along shorelines.
Kindly read the continuation of this article on “the importance of mangroves to climate regulation”