Earth Has 12% Fewer Mangroves Than Previously Thought, New Satellite Data Reveals

mangrove photo

photo: Tim Keegan via flickr

We've known the world's mangrove forests have been declining for some time, but new satellite imagery from the US Geological Survey and NASA shows that the situation is worse than we thought: More accurate mapping tells us there are 12.3% fewer mangroves than previously believed.The research, published in Global Ecology and Biogeography, has produced what is being described as the world's most definitive map of mangroves and calculates there are approximately 53,190 square miles remaining globally.

Furthermore, even though some 118 countries have mangroves, three-quarters of these forests are found in just fifteen countries, and just under 7% of them are currently protected. In total, Asia has 42% of remaining mangroves, while 21% are found in Africa, 15% in North and Central America, 12% in Oceania, and 11% in South America.

Many Remaining Mangroves in Degraded State
Dr Chandra Giri of the USGS says,

The current estimate of mangrove forests of the world is less than half what it once was, and much of that is in a degraded condition. It is believed that 35% of mangrove forests were lost from 1980 to 2000 which has had an impact on the coastal communities that use mangrove forests as a protective barrier from natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis.

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More on Mangroves:
Mangrove Loss Left Burma Exposed to Cyclone
World's Mangroves Being Destroyed Four Times Faster Than Other Forests
Sixteen Percent of the World's Mangroves Threatened With Extinction
Mangroves & Coastal Wetlands Store 50 Times More Carbon Than Tropical Forests by Area