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Making More of Mangrove Ecosystem Services

By Scott Atkinson

Different mangrove areas in the same region provide different ecosystem services. Mapping these is important when deciding where conservation investment should go.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

For much of our recent history, societies have often viewed mangroves as swamps, health hazards, and only good for draining and developing. Fast forward to the present day and it’s widely acknowledged that mangroves are anything but wastelands, and do in fact generate highly valuable services such as coastal protection, habitat for wildlife, breeding grounds for fisheries, and carbon storage. This is especially the case in developing Pacific nations where mangroves provide vital services that contribute enormously to both the economy and the well-being of local peoples and cultures.

Despite their value, mangroves are an ecosystem under threat. Up to one-third of mangroves around the world have been cleared for coastal development and aquaculture since 1980. What’s left is facing pressure from other factors, including climate change and rising sea levels. The resources available to save this precious ecosystem are scarce, so it’s important to invest them wisely.

Recently we’ve developed an approach that helps prioritise investments in mangrove conservation in a way that takes into account the different values of the ecosystem services that individual mangroves provide across a management area. We demonstrated the value of this approach by mapping multiple ecosystem services being provided by Fiji’s mangroves and their relative value across all of Fiji. Our...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.