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For and Against Mangroves

Mangroves are becoming more popular

The first recorded report on mangroves was dated back to 325 B.C. Today, there are thousands of reports out there based on intense research into mangrove communities.  In addition to this, the earth has never seen such a huge spike in human population. 6 billion people all in need of resources like food, clothing and shelter.

In the past,  some cultures have used mangroves for fuel wood, charcoal, tannins, timber and as the raw material for industries. Not to mention, the temptation by real estate developers to fill in mangrove areas and create affordable real estate for developments. In many cases, the mangrove areas are sold at a much cheaper cost than other water front property.

However regulations, policies and conventions are being put in place to protect mangroves and penalize those who destroy them.  Depending on who you are, there is a vast array of arguments for and against saving mangroves. I will highlight both arguments from my very own perspective.

Why Save Mangroves?

Here are 6 pretty good arguments for saving mangroves.

1. Mangrove communities are coastal in nature and offer protection of coastal land from storm surges and wave impacts.

2. Over time, the tidal flow into the mangroves brings with it sediments that accumulates around the mangrove roots. Over an extended period of time, the soil builds up and produces new buildable land.

3. The roots of the mangroves help to slow down the motion of the water and as such create a calm nursery area for juvenile crustaceans, fish, and mollusks.

4. Terrestrial animals such as birds and mammals also find sanctuary in the mangrove foliage.

5. Since the mangrove plants have the ability to disperse their seeds in remote locations, one can find strands of mangroves in secluded quiet areas perfect for birds to roost.

6. Additionally, the fishing industry in many nations is completely dependent on these communities being left intact. Research has shown that in areas where mangroves have been removed, fisherman have noticed a substantial decrease in catch.  Basically the removal of the mangroves would essentially be eliminating the source of new hatchlings. It would not take long before the fisheries resources of the nation are completely destroyed.

What about you? Why do you think we ought to save mangroves? Are they worth saving at all?

Why Not Save Mangroves? 

There are many countries which are suffering from over population. Resources are scarce, land is scarce and people are doing the best they can to survive based on the natural resources available to them.  Using the example of the Bahamas, where a great percentage of the ‘land’ is mangroves, some may argue that to set aside a portion of mangroves for development purposes would not result in the extreme depletion of fisheries resources. With proper testing, planning and development practices, developments can occur in a sustainable fashion.

Tourism activities in the mangroves such as Horseback riding, air boating, bone fishing offer people the opportunity to enjoy wildlife viewing. Additionally, this industry produces high capital income, especially for developing nations who main industry revolves around tourism.  More and more schools are using mangrove parks for education and research.

What about the other ecosystems? Surely the mangroves are not the only critical ecosystems in a given country? Cities and towns are continually being developed in what was once virgin plant territory. If we take the approach of wanting to save each and every mangrove plant and community, then why not do the same with other plant communities? Mangroves represent only one ecosystem, and there are many other ecosystems which are being cut down for the sake of development in non-coastal areas and along the coastal regions of nations. To save each and every ecosystem will result in no place for man to live, no food for man to consume and no resources for man to use as shelter.

Like all natural plant communities, a delicate balance has to be found when developing. It is mans responsibility to manage the affairs of the earth and all the creatures. Consideration must be made for man to provide for his needs but not at the expense of future human, plant or animal populations. With proper testing and planning, we can both save the mangroves and utilize the mangroves for our benefit and survival.

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