UNEP Releases World Atlas of Mangroves

14 June 2010: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and partners have released the first global assessment of mangroves in over a decade: the World Atlas of Mangroves.

According to the Altas, studies estimate that mangroves generate between US$2000-9000 per hectare annually, considerably more than alternative uses such as aquaculture, agriculture or insensitive tourism. It also underscores the link between these coastal forests and economically-important services from flood defences and fish nurseries to carbon storage to combat climate change.

The assessment highlighted various uses and ecological niches of mangroves related to climate change including: the importance of mangroves as greenbelts and carbon sinks that protect coastal areas from natural disasters such as tsunamis, cyclones and erosion resulting from sea-level rise, especially in small island countries; and the storage of organic carbon in mangrove soils, thereby mitigating climate change. According to the Altas, preliminary estimates indicate that the total above-ground biomass for the world's mangrove forests may be over 3700Tg of carbon, and that carbon sequestration directly into mangrove sediments is likely to be in the range of 14-17Tg of carbon per year.

UNEP-WCMC partners in the assessment include: the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO); the International Society of Mangrove Ecosystems; the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-Man and Biosphere; the UN University (UNU) Institute for Water Environment and Health; and The Nature Conservancy. [UNEP Press Release]