It is hard to understate the role that the mangrove plays in ecosystems across the planet: Indigenous to salt water, it can turn barren salt flats into habitats for fish and important plants like rice, help desalinate soil, replenish nitrogen, strengthening vulnerable coastlines, and soak up massive amounts of carbon.
But for three decades, the mangrove has been on the decline. The latest data from NASA and the US Geological Survey shows that the world has lost 35% of its mangrove forests since 1980, due to cutting and drought.
In Senegal, the loss of mangroves is debilitating to local economies. Once, mangrove forests supported oysters, shrimp, tilapia, barracuda and catfish. Now, many of those species are gone.
Photo: Alex Pasternack