Mangrove Ecosystems Face Imminent Collapse by 2050, Warns IUCN

3 Min Read

More than half of the world’s mangrove ecosystems could face collapse by 2050, according to a recent assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This alarming prediction underscores the critical importance of mangroves, which serve as natural coastal defenses against rising sea levels, tides, and storm surges.

Communities living along the receding shorelines of low-lying Vypin Island, off India’s west coast, are acutely aware of the vital role mangroves play. With sea level rise and severe tidal floods forcing many families to relocate to higher ground, efforts to plant trees along the shores of Vypin and the surrounding areas in the Kochi region of Kerala state are ongoing.

Tidal flooding, exacerbated by rising sea levels and local factors, pushes water levels above normal, threatening these coastal areas. Mangroves offer a natural buffer, but they are under severe threat globally. The IUCN’s Red List of Ecosystems, an initiative assessing the risk of ecosystem collapse, now includes mangroves for the first time. Researchers have found that nearly a fifth of global mangroves are classified as Endangered or Critically Endangered.

Marcos Valderrabano, a lead researcher for the IUCN’s Red List of Ecosystems, emphasizes that climate change-induced sea level rise is the primary threat to mangroves. “This is the first global Red List assessment of mangrove ecosystems, and it reveals that 50% of the world’s mangrove ecosystems are threatened and at risk of collapse. Sea level rise is the main driver of this risk. Projections indicate that 30% of mangrove ecosystems will be severely affected by future sea level rise, with limited capacity to survive and regenerate.”

Valderrabano highlights the increasing importance of mangroves as climate change progresses. They not only protect against coastal erosion but also support fisheries, which are crucial for the livelihoods of coastal communities.

In southern India, mangroves are critically endangered, as are those in other regions such as Salinas, Puerto Rico, where illegal construction leads to the destruction of these vital ecosystems. The global community must recognize the importance of preserving mangroves to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and support vulnerable coastal populations.


Share this Article