25.07.2017 - UNESCO Office in Apia

UNESCO marks the Second International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, 26 July 2017

UNESCO office for the Pacific States works with Biosphere Reserves in the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau to protect mangrove ecosystems.

Mangroves are rare, spectacular and productive ecosystems.  Located at the interface of land and sea, they are vital for food security and protection of coastal communities; they provide forest products, nurseries for aquatic species, fishing grounds and timber.  They also defend coastlines against erosion and storm surges and they sequester carbon.

In the Pacific, mangroves have long been valued as areas for fishing and collecting crabs, as well as for their resistant wood, which is used in the construction of houses and boats.  The Pacific region represents 3.8% of the world mangrove distribution, with the greatest mangrove species diversity found in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.  However, estimates indicate that the Pacific lost 29% of its mangrove area between 1980 and 2005 (see Securing The Future of Mangroves policy brief).  The main threats are coastal, tourism and urban development, overharvesting, overfishing, pollution and others.

UNESCO Office for the Pacific States works with Biosphere Reserves in the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau to protect mangrove ecosystems.  For instance, the Utwe Biosphere Reserve, in the Federated States of Micronesia, is a large bay that moves inland through a small network of mangrove passageways.  Acknowledging that mangroves play an important role as a butter between the land and the sea, Utwe Biosphere Reserve's management plan includes action items to protect and restore the mangrove ecosystem and sustainably manage the ten mangrove species found in the Biosphere Reserve.

As UNESCO's Director-General, Ms. Irina Bokova, states, coastal mangroves are the most threatened ecosystems on earth.  The International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem is an opportunity to recall that mangrove ecosystems are essential to the lives of many people around the world, including in the Pacific.  Ms. Bokova highlights the leading role that UNESCO is playing in the Blue Carbon Initiative to mitigate climate change through the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable use of coastal and marine ecosystems, focusing on mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses and urges that everyone redouble their commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement to protect these remarkable ecosystems.

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