New data shows benefits of Florida’s mangroves on the environment

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Red mangrove. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News, 2009.

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This week, The Nature Conservancy Florida released new research supporting the coastal protection and ecosystem benefits provided by mangrove forests.

Mangroves are trees and shrubs that grow on coastal waters. They cover over 430 thousand acres in Florida.

New data released by The Nature Conservacy Florida shows just how crucial mangroves are. Senior marine scientist Laura Geselbracht describes their importance.

“Our mangroves, the present value of reducing storm surge flooding is 50 billion dollars, which is huge! And, you know, these mangroves are working beyond just flood protection. They’re also sequestering carbon, they’re providing fish and wildlife habitat, they are helping to prevent erosion of our shorelines.” she says.

However, Geselbracht worries that a mix of rising sea levels due to climate change and urban development in Florida may harm mangrove growth.

“Many of our urban areas in Florida are highly developed so mangroves don’t have a chance to move up slope as sea level rise progresses. They’re kind of squeezed between the sea level and that urban development.”

She encourages people to support Florida preserves where mangroves grow.

“Embrace the expansion of mangroves into new areas of the state where maybe they haven’t seen them before. Don’t think they’re invasive species – they’re not. They’re native species, they provide a lot of benefits.”

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