Mangrove forests store large amounts of carbon below ground, according to a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience. The areal extent of mangrove forests has declined by 30-50% over the past half century as a result of deforestation.
Daniel Donato and colleagues examined the carbon content of 25 mangrove forests across the Indo-Pacific region. They show that mangroves are among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics; most of the carbon is stored below ground in sediments. They estimate that mangrove deforestation generates a loss of 0.02-0.12 petagrams of carbon per year, which is equivalent to up to 10% of carbon emissions from global deforestation.
In an accompanying News & Views article, Steven Bouillon argues that the findings “provide a strong incentive to consider mangrove ecosystems as priority areas for conservation”.