Know the Benefits of Mangrove Forests for Natural Ecosystems and Community Life- Protecting nature and its habitat is the duty of humans as creatures that live side by side with nature. In coastal communities who live directly above sea level because they are far from land, it is their duty to protect every natural ecosystem that is on the coast.
Mangrove forest is one example of a natural ecosystem that grows very well on the coast to maintain the balance of the border between land and sea so that the rising sea water does not erode the existing land little by little.
Mangrove forest is an important coastal ecosystem. The benefits of mangrove forests are very broad, especially in supporting coastal life. In principle, mangrove forests do not only grow in coastal areas, but can also grow in brackish swamps.
The habitat of this tree makes the shape of the mangrove tree unique because it combines the characteristics of land and sea plants. Indonesia itself is one of the countries with the most mangrove forest landscapes.
But do Sinaumed’s friends already know what are the benefits that are obtained when maintaining and caring for mangrove forests for coastal life? If not, then in this discussion we have presented information about what are the benefits of mangrove forests for natural ecosystems and the lives of coastal communities.
Furthermore, we have summarized this information below!
What Are Mangrove Forests?
Before knowing what are the benefits of mangrove forests, it’s a good idea for Sinaumed’s friends to also know about what mangrove forests themselves are.
Next, see the summary below.
Mangrove forest (mangrove in English) is a forest that grows in brackish water, which is affected by tides. This forest grows mainly in muddy areas and accumulation of organic matter. And in bays that are protected from wave attack and around river mouths, where the water slows and deposits silt that is carried upstream.
The mangrove forest ecosystem is unique both because of muddy soil which reduces soil friction; its high soil salinity; and experienced tidal flooding. Only a few plant species survive in these places and most of them are characteristic of mangroves because they have undergone a process of adaptation and development.
Mangroves are common in warmer areas of the world, especially around the equator in the tropics and to a lesser extent in the subtropics.
Indonesia has mangrove forests with an area of 2.5 to 4.5 million hectares, making it the largest mangrove forest in the world. It is surpassed by Brazil (1.3 million ha), Nigeria (1.1 million ha) and Australia (0.97 ha) (Spalding et al, 1997, Noor et al, 1999).
The area of mangroves in Indonesia reaches 25 percent of the world’s mangrove area. However, some of them are in critical condition. In Indonesia, extensive mangrove forests surround the relatively calm Sunda Coast, where major rivers flow. Namely on the east coast of Sumatra and on the west and south coasts of Kalimantan. On the north coast of Java, this forest has long been eroded due to the people’s need for land.
In eastern Indonesia, on the edge of the Sahul shelf, mangrove forests are still in good condition along the southwest coast of Papua, especially around Bintun Bay. Mangroves in Papua cover an area of 1.3 million hectares, which is about a third of the area of mangroves in Indonesia.
Types of Mangrove Plants
There are three classes of mangroves in the mangrove forest ecosystem, namely:
- Main (large) true mangroves, namely mangroves that grow in intertidal areas and form clean stands.
- Other true (small) mangroves, namely parts of mangroves which are usually found on the edges and rarely form stands, therefore they are considered as minor parts.
- Follow-up mangroves (Association), namely mangrove plants that never grow in true mangrove areas and usually grow on land.
Of the three types of mangroves, true mangroves are the most important in coastal areas because they grow in intertidal areas to prevent direct damage.
According to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP), there are 202 types of mangrove plants in Indonesia, consisting of 89 tree species, 5 climbing species, terrestrial grass species, epiphytic species (growing on other plants), and 1 fern species.
Of the 202 species, 3 species belong to the true (primary) mangrove class, while the rest belong to the related mangrove class. Mangrove plant species are scattered throughout Indonesia. Complete information on 166 species in Java, 157 species in Sumatra, 150 species in Kalimantan, 142 species in Papua, 135 species in Sulawesi, 133 species in Maluku and 120 species in the Lesser Sunda Islands.
Benefits of Mangrove Forests for Ecosystems
The main advantage of mangrove forests which are very beneficial for coastal life is their ability to prevent abrasion.
Abrasion is the process of eroding the beach by the force of sea waves and ocean currents or by the destructive tides of ocean currents. Abrasion is also known as beach erosion. Coastal damage due to abrasion is caused by disruption of the natural balance of coastal areas.
Unprotected dredging can lead to erosion of coastal plains, destruction of mangrove forests and loss of fish aggregation sites.
Why can scouring still damage mangroves? This condition can occur if the abrasion strength is not comparable to the mangroves planted. Even without mangroves, the livelihoods of coastal residents could be reduced.
At certain times of the year sea breezes blow strongly towards the land which then causes erosion.
Uncontrolled abrasion can have a negative impact on coastal life because these conditions can cause seawater intrusion.
However, erosion can be prevented by maintaining mangrove forests, as dense mangroves block sea breezes.
Seawater Intrusion Prevention
Sea water intrusion is a condition where sea water enters into the pores of rocks and contaminates groundwater.
This has a fatal impact on the availability of clean water for coastal settlements. This condition can get worse if it lasts a long time. The worst impact is the disruption of the health of coastal residents and coastal agriculture suffers.
Animal Living Places
Human activities have caused massive loss of biodiversity in terrestrial and marine ecosystems around the world. This threatens the many plant and animal species that live in mangrove forests.
The existence of mangrove forests is not only limited to the protection of marine animals, but also serves as a habitat for land and air animals.
These can be birds, snakes, monkeys and many other species of animals.
Mangrove roots are also very useful for fish as a food source.
By filtering coastal waters, mangroves create a nutrient-rich habitat for many species that grow both above and below the water’s edge.
Mangrove ecosystems are home to or nest in a wide variety of fauna, including many species of fish, crabs and shrimp, molluscs, turtles and other mammals.
Trees are also home to various types of nesting, breeding and migratory birds.
When mangrove forests are cut down, this valuable habitat is lost, which threatens the survival of many species.
But that’s not the whole story. Mangroves are also a potential source of as yet undiscovered biological materials, such as antibacterial compounds and pest-resistant genes, that may be of benefit to humanity. When mangroves are gone to coastal erosion, so are they.
Depletion of mangroves and other forests such as the Amazon affects many different species. Data from the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) shows that 68,574 species of invertebrates, currently 8,374 of them are threatened with extinction.
Protecting natural ecosystems such as mangroves not only helps conserve biodiversity, but also protects important resources for local communities.
Mangrove forests must be dense with large roots and muddy areas.
Both of these act as natural filters that can break down organic waste and chemicals that can pollute the sea.
Therefore, planting mangrove trees is very important because the benefits of mangrove forests are to protect the ecosystem around the coast.
Contributed to the formation of the island
The benefit of mangrove forests in the long term is to contribute to the formation of land that influences coastal development.
The wider the area of land produced from mangrove forests, the greater the chance of success for land plants.
If this condition lasts a long time, it is possible that this ecosystem can form new islands.
Mangrove Forest Maintains Water Quality
Mangrove forests are also very important in maintaining water quality. Thanks to their dense network of roots and surrounding vegetation, they filter and capture sediment, heavy metals and other pollutants.
The ability to retain sediment upstream prevents pollution of downstream waterways and protects sensitive habitats such as the underlying coral reefs and sea grasses.
Mangrove wood is often used in construction and as a fuel.
However, it must be properly monitored. Instead of cutting down mangrove forests on a large scale.
Mangrove trees are often used as pulp, charcoal and animal feed.
In addition, the mangrove ecosystem can also be a place for the growth of various types of medicinal plants.
Tourism area development
The benefits of mangrove forests also extend to the tourism sector because mangrove ecosystems have their own importance.
Especially for people who do not live on the coast.
There are several tourist attractions for mangrove forests in Indonesia itself. You can visit Muara Angke, Rembang, Tarakan, Wanasari and many more.
Climate and Weather Protection
Unpredictable climate and weather changes can cause damage to natural ecosystems, including mangrove ecosystems.
However, this can be minimized by keeping the mangroves intact and undamaged.
Thus, the coastal climate is maintained and mangrove forests also play a role in preventing natural disasters.
Global Warming Prevention
Currently global warming has become a big problem for mankind. One of the causes is none other than damage to the ecosystem.
Developing mangrove forests can be one way to prevent global warming and minimize its impact.
The enormous benefits of mangrove forest ecosystems are a place for scientific development because there is much that can be learned from this ecosystem.
Examples of research in the field of marine, fisheries or even chemistry.
Source of Firewood
One of the benefits of mangroves experienced by coastal communities is as a source of firewood.
Therefore, the use of gas can be reduced to reduce the need for gas use.
Marine Pond Environment
The mangrove forest area is one of the most comfortable places for various types of creatures and organisms.
Shrimp, fish and crabs, for example, are suitable for living in mangrove forests.
On the other hand, humans also need these living things as food and as a source of nutrients that are important for health.
Tsunamis are giant waves under the sea caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. Dense mangrove forests, which have strong roots that go deep into the ground, can be useful in reducing the impact of tsunamis by reducing the damage caused by water flowing inland. Mangrove forests several hundred meters wide have been shown to reduce tsunami heights by 5-30%.
Absorbable carbon dioxide
Research: Dr. Nugroho Dr. IOP Conference Series Waskitho University of Muhammadiyah Malang: Materials Science and Technology shows that mangroves have the ability to absorb carbon. Another study found that the average maturity of mangroves is 25 years.
One hectare of mature mangrove forest can absorb 840 tons of carbon dioxide. This means that one mangrove tree can absorb 308 kg (0.3 tons) of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during its growing season, which is 12.3 kg per year. The main cause of climate change is the excess amount of carbon dioxide produced from the use of fossil fuels. With mangrove forests, more carbon dioxide is absorbed to prevent climate change.
How to Care for and Preserve Mangrove Forests
There are several ways to preserve mangrove forests that local communities and the government can apply.
How to protect mangroves are as follows:
- Replanting mangroves in damaged mangrove ecosystem areas.
- Utilize mangroves wisely to avoid damage and provide protection of mangrove forests.
- Protection and management of mangrove forests.
- Encouraging people not to dump waste into the sea.
This is a brief discussion on the benefits of mangrove forests for natural ecosystems and people’s lives. Not only discussing mangrove forests, but also discussing what benefits can be obtained from caring for mangrove forests for nature and its living things and what ways can be done to care for and preserve the existence of the mangrove forests themselves.
Knowing the various benefits of mangrove forests gives us a valuable lesson how important it is to protect and care for nature and its ecosystem because it is very beneficial for the life of every living thing and not only humans receive the positive impact but all living things both animals and plants also feel the positive impact of caring for mangrove forest.