UNESCO publishes 125 posters of mangroves around the world

To mark International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem on 26 July, UNESCO is publishing a series of 125 posters, each summarizing key features of the mangrove ecosystem of a particular country or territory. These posters may be downloaded and reproduced for free.
Ras Sanad Mangrove Forest-Bahrain

‘This is the first-ever comprehensive mangrove poster series’, explains UNESCO Senior Programme Specialist Benno Boer. ‘The series covers all countries and territories that have mangroves. The posters have been produced by UNESCO, the Thai National Science Museum (NSM) and the Mangrove Action Project and link to UNESCO-designated sites. They will be displayed at NSM’s Rama IX Museum, at the Asian Institute of Technology and elsewhere. As the posters are open access, they may be downloaded freely'.

A fragile, yet vital ecosystem

Mangroves currently cover a surface area of just 14.8 million hectares – an area equivalent to the size of Greece. It is estimated that some countries lost more than 40% of their mangrove forests between 1980 and 2005, often due to coastal development.

In the plant world, mangroves are unique. Inhabiting a hostile environment, they have adapted to survive. Their roots stand in waterlogged ground, almost devoid of oxygen. Their leaves and trunks are engineered to regulate salinity. To reproduce, they drop not seeds but seedlings – the plant equivalent of a live birth.

However, mangroves are much more than marvels of nature. Standing in the intertidal zone between land and sea, mangroves perform a range of services for coastal communities in tropical and sub-tropical regions. They protect biodiversity by sheltering and nurturing marine life. They function like filtration systems, absorbing nutrients and pollutants. They fight coastal erosion, acting as breakwaters to dissipate storm surges and wave energy. Above all, they play an essential role as carbon sinks, sequestering atmospheric and oceanic carbon for long periods of time.

The world is waking up to the importance of mangroves

The world is waking up to the importance of mangroves – and other blue carbon ecosystems, including salt marshes, seagrass beds and coastal wetlands. UNESCO has long worked to conserve these essential areas in its World Heritage sites, Global Geoparks and biosphere reserves. The ecosystems in its marine World Heritage sites alone span 207 million hectares: 10% of all marine protected areas globally. In 2015, UNESCO instigated the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem to remind people of just how fragile these vital ecosystems are.

Mangroves from the air - Madagascar

UNESCO implementing science-based solutions

When it comes to protecting ecosystems like these, UNESCO’s biosphere reserves offer a unique blueprint. UNESCO is working with academics and local and indigenous communities to implement science-based solutions, in order to protect mangrove forests across the globe, from the Ranong Biosphere Reserve in Thailand to the Delta du Saloum Biosphere Reserve in Senegal or the Marawah Biosphere Reserve in the United Arab Emirates.

In Madagascar, communities in the Sahamalza Radama Biosphere Reserve rely on mangrove forests to serve as nurseries for the fish and crustaceans that they consume. Since 2020, more than 2,000 inhabitants of this biosphere reserve have planted 1.2 million mangrove seedlings.

On 28 August, UNESCO is launching the Mangrove Restoration as a Nature-based Solution project in Mexico. This project will target seven Latin American biosphere reserves in the following countries: Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama and Peru. The project aims to generate socio-economic opportunities for the local community and will involve the co-creation of knowledge between indigenous people, the wider local population and academia. The project is being funded by Flemish Funds-in-Trust to the tune of US$1.1 million, with an additional contribution from the Spanish government.

Download the poster on mangroves in your country
Ras Sanad Mangrove Forest-Bahrain