Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Climate change threatens mangrove forests

An article titled Losing mangrove forests in El Salvador on the website of Al Jazeera English deals with the issue of climate change and how its is affecting the mangrove forests along El Salvador's southeastern coastline. Rising sea levels endanger the mangroves:

The mangrove forest is a unique ecosystem found in tropical and sub-tropical coastal regions in the Americas, Middle East, Asia and Oceania. Often found where fresh water and salt water mix, the mangrove creates specific ecological conditions that support a wide variety of flora and fauna. 
The trees have a series of stilt-like supports that extend from the trunk for increased stability and resilience. The mangrove trees have evolved to be able to withstand change in water level caused by normally occurring tidal cycles and mild flooding, helping protect coastal areas from damage from extreme storms and tsunamis. In recent years, however, a rise in sea level has brought the ocean waves intruding further inland than ever before, wreaking havoc on the trees and the entire ecosystem. 
According to Dr Ricardo Navarro, director of the Centre for Appropriate Technologies in El Salvador (CESTA), over 30 metres of mangrove forest has been completely destroyed by this phenomenon in the last six years. "With the increase in global sea level, the ocean waves are entering further and further into the mangroves. What happens is the waves wash away the soil nutrients, leaving the trees in pure sand. So the trees die, and then all of the animals leave the area." 
All along the central coast of El Salvador there is a dead zone stretching along the beach, measuring between 10 and 50 metres. The cause? Climate change, says Dr Navarro. 
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that global sea level rose 21 centimetres in the last century. This rise is reportedly caused by a combination of glacial melting, melting of the polar caps, and the physical expansion of the oceans with a rise in water temperature, all thought to be consequences of human-caused global warming.
Read the rest of the article here. For more information about the communities which depend on the mangroves and the challenges they face, make a visit to the blog of EcoViva. EcoViva is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year of working with the communities of the Lower Lempa on environmental sustainability, economic self-sufficiency, social justice, and peace.

1 comment:

Senor Pescador said...

we got a mess with this issue, which affects fishing