Adapting to climate change (Oceania)
The importance of mangroves in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change in the Oceania region cannot be overestimated, but they are under threat from coastal development, population dynamics and increasing demand for resources. It is anticipated that sea-level rise and flooding resulting from climate change will make things worse for vulnerable coastal areas and communities.
Mangroves are trees and shrubs that live in the area between the land and the sea and are one of the vitally important coastal ecosystems of the region. They thrive in mud and salt water where other trees could not survive. Their complex root structures allow them to survive the roughest of weather, and also provide nursery grounds and protection from predators for fish and other marine animals that Pacific Islanders rely on for food security and income. It is estimated that mangroves contribute an annual value of up to US$900,000 per square kilometre in ecosystem services such as protecting foreshores, fisheries production and supply of building materials (e.g. timber), tourism and recreation and improving water quality.
A new project “Mangrove Ecosystems for Climate Change and Livelihoods” (MESCAL), was launched in the Solomon Islands in 2010 which will help mangrove managers and scientists from Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu and Pacific Islands to protect and conserve their mangroves, to improve livelihoods and build resilience to the impacts of climate change on coastal zones. It will develop a clear action strategy informed by multiple stakeholders.
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