Environment Australia’s carbon-rich mangroves need protection

Australia’s carbon-rich mangroves need protection

Losing the world’s mangroves could release an extra seven million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year, according to new research from Griffith University.

Professor Rod Connolly, a marine scientist from Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute, is the co-author of a study that shows the vast reserves of carbon being sequestered by mangrove forests.

“This is the first comprehensive assessment of mangrove carbon stocks, country by country around the coastlines of the world”, Professor Connolly said.

Mangroves and other coastal plants use atmospheric carbon to grow. Some carbon is locked up in their trunks, branches and roots. But even more is isolated in the forest soils.

The deep muddy soils that mangroves live in provide ideal conditions for preventing decomposition of carbon and thus keeping it locked up for millennia.

The study identifies areas of the world most vulnerable to losing this huge carbon store back to the atmosphere and found soils in Australia, home to seven per cent of the world’s mangroves, have some of the highest levels of carbon storage.

Professor Connolly said the paper shows clearly where most urgent attention to mangrove conservation is required.

“We need to do all we can to prevent major losses in Australia, such as the massive die-off in northern Australia and the Gulf country in 2016,” Professor Connolly warned.

Hundreds of kilometres of mangroves along the coast of Karumba in Queensland’s Gulf Country and in the Northern Territory have turned a ghostly white affecting fish stocks, flora and carbon storage in the region.

The findings may help countries around the world consider the emissions impacts of mangrove deforestation.

Read Griffith University’s article here. Story credit: Griffith University newsroom.

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