The world loses Sh3.7 trillion ($42 billion) annually as a result of the continued destruction of mangrove trees, a new United Nations Environmental Programme (Unep) report shows.
In Kenya, the population of the trees that are mainly found in coastal regions has reduced significantly because of climate change and deforestation.
According to the study titled The Importance of Mangroves: A Call to Action, harmful gasses resulting from depletion of carbon-rich mangrove make up nearly a fifth of global emissions from deforestation. This has led to economic losses of between $6 billion to $42 billion yearly.
Unep executive director Achim Steiner says: “Mangroves provide ecosystem services worth around $33,000 - $57,000 per hectare per year. Add to that their superior ability to store carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and it becomes clear that their continued destruction makes neither ecological nor economic sense.”
Mangroves are a type of tropical forest, uniquely positioned at the dynamic interface of land and sea. Just like in Kenya, the trees are found along coasts and estuaries throughout the tropics and sub-tropics and are capable of thriving in salty water.
The new report notes that although mangroves make up less than one per cent of all tropical forests worldwide, they are highly valuable ecosystems.