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Philippines Invest in Mangroves as a Form of Carbon Storage

Not only are mangroves growing in popularity for their ability to absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide, and therefore help battle climate change, they are also believed to massively help protect communities from tsunamis and typhoons, such as the deadly Haiyan typhoon that hit the Philippines earlier this month.

The Philippines is investing heavily in efforts to try and slow the loss of its mangrove forests by deforestation and actually plant new regions in an effort to protect against future storms and help the region reduce its carbon emissions. The Trowel Development Foundation, in charge of a regeneration scheme in Northern Samar, said that the mangroves helped to minimise the damage to much of region, located about 100 miles north of the city of Tacloban, which itself was devastated by the recent typhoon.

Related article: Mapping Mangroves for Our Carbon Future

Leonardo Rosario, a development consultant working on the Northern Samar regeneration project, told Bloomberg that “had we not protected the mangrove trees against illegal cutting and had we not planted the areas surrounding the fish farms with native mangrove species, the super typhoon would have destroyed everything that the poor fisherfolks established.”

Mangroves

A 2011 study carried out by Cambridge University explained that mangroves have roots that rise several feet above ground obstructing any incoming storm waves and helping to reduce their height and power.

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Tacloban has no mangrove forests to provide protection, meaning that “the super typhoon hit the land with its strongest might and high speed because there is no mangrove forest that should have slowed it down,” said Rosario. “I hope the government would now realize the import of mangrove forests in protecting people, structures and livelihoods in the coastal areas.”

Recent studies have produced models that claim as few as 30 mangrove trees per 100 square metres of coastal land would be enough to reduce the power of a tsunami by as much as 90%. Although Brian McAdoo, a professor of science at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, is sceptical, stating that he has “been in far too many disaster areas as a member of the UNESCO International Tsunami Survey Team and seen too many coastal forests overwhelmed to put much faith in trees being effective defences against a tsunami.”

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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