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Planting Mangrove Trees: 5 Earth-Friendly Benefits

Updated: Apr 30

What is special about Mangrove Trees?

Mangrove trees are trees that grow in coastal salt-water zones located in the tropics and sub-tropics. Unlike most other trees, mangroves are salt-tolerant and have adapted to live in harsh coastal conditions, meaning they are able to survive when submerged in water. These unique characteristics make mangroves truly special and key to a healthy and diverse environment.

Why are mangroves important?

Mangrove forests are essential worldwide for protecting coastlines, filtering pollutants, and serving as carbon sinks and wildlife habitats. They act as natural barriers against extreme weather, crucial for reducing erosion and improving water quality.

Biodiverse and supportive of marine life, mangroves are key to ecological health and climate change mitigation.

What are some benefits of maintaining mangrove forests?

Here are 5 reasons why mangroves are so important:

1. Climate Action: Mangroves' Role in Carbon Capture and Climate Mitigation

Underwater roots of mangrove trees interwoven in clear waters, a testament to climate action as these trees sequester carbon, combatting climate change by storing 'Blue Carbon' in the soil
Credit: Ocean Image Bank — Matt Curnock

The Efficiency of Mangrove Ecosystems in Storing Carbon

As with other species of trees, mangroves absorb and naturally store carbon. But unlike most other types of trees, the way mangroves store this carbon makes them a key player in the fight against climate change. The carbon absorbed over the lifetime of a mangrove tree gets stored in water-logged soil, buried under sediment that builds up on the seafloor. This is known as ‘Blue Carbon’ and it has a critical role in tackling the climate crisis. Pound for pound, blue carbon ecosystems capture around 10 times more carbon than terrestrial forests, such as rainforests. Sadly, over the past few decades, we’ve lost a third of these ecosystems, largely as a result of human activity. The disruption of these ecosystems has resulted in this carbon being released back into the atmosphere. By restoring and protecting mangrove forests, we are able to naturally remove carbon from the atmosphere, whilst supporting surrounding ecosystems. And the potential for this carbon removal is significant. Despite mangroves accounting for less than 2% of marine environments, they are responsible for 10-15% of global carbon burial.

2. The Role of Mangroves in Marine Ecosystems

Fish shelters in mangroves. Mangrove roots provide critical habitat for diverse marine life, essential for ecosystem balance.
Credit: Ocean Image Bank — Lorenzo Mittiga

Essential Habitats for Fish and Marine Life

Around a third of all marine species are estimated to rely on mangrove forests at some point during their lives. The tangled roots of mangroves are perfect for sheltering from predators. As well as protection, these roots are also a source of food for young aquatic creatures, making them essential to surrounding ecosystems and fisheries. In fact, roughly 30% of all fish caught in South East Asia will be supported by mangrove forests at some point during their life.

3. Mangroves as Natural Water Filters: Benefits for Coral Reefs and Seagrass

Sunlit coral reefs and fish by a mangrove tree, showcasing an ecosystem where natural mangrove filters support marine life.
Credit: Ocean Image Bank - Tracey Jennings

How Mangrove Roots Help Maintain Water Quality?

Not just fish benefit from mangroves. By acting as natural ‘sieves’, mangroves improve the quality of runoff water that flows to seagrass beds and nearby coral reefs. Through this filtration process, they also reduce the acidity of the water. This helps to support healthy coral reefs and prevent bleaching often caused by high water acidity levels.

4. Biodiversity: Supporting a Diverse Range of Species

Bengal tiger in mangroves, symbol of biodiversity, conservation and tree planting efforts.
Credit: Ocean Image Bank — Soham Bhattacharyya

Safeguarding At-Risk Species in Mangrove Ecosystems

We’ve already heard about how mangroves support marine life, but they are also crucial to supporting a range of plant and animal species. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, there are over 30 plants and animals listed as “vulnerable” or “critically endangered” that have been associated with mangrove habitats, including hawksbill turtles and the Bengal tiger. In fact, there are 40 birds, 10 reptiles, 1 amphibian, and 6 mammal species that are only found in mangrove habitats!

5. Mangrove Trees as Coastal Protectors

The mangrove trees with their verdant canopy serve as a natural protective barrier for houses and boats along the coastline.
Credit: Ocean Image Bank — Srikanth Mannepuri

Reducing Erosion and Providing Storm Defence

As well as serving plants and animals, mangroves also directly benefit many coastal communities. Their roots protect from coastal erosion and reduce the impact of surges during storms which can cause flooding. The protection offered by mangrove forests is so significant that it is estimated they can cut storm related deaths by two thirds, and the overall force of a tsunami by 90%! Indeed, they are "extraordinary trees"!


How much CO2 does a Mangrove Tree absorb?

A mangrove tree absorbs approximately 12.3 kg of CO2 annually, totaling about 308 kg over an average growth life of 25 years.

Can you grow mangrove trees anywhere?

Mangroves are adapted to warm, tropical, and subtropical climates and cannot grow just anywhere. They require specific conditions related to water salinity, temperature, and tidal patterns, typically found along coastlines where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

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