Shrimp farming, with its accompanying human rights abuses; irresponsible tourism; agriculture; aquaculture; coastal development and charcoal and timber extraction are pushing these habitats to the edge.
Sadly, this is not surprising. Biodiversity hotspots around the world are targeted relentlessly for their resources with no notice paid to the wildlife or Indigenous communities that suffer as a consequence.
The impacts of mangrove deforestation are multifaceted. As these often-overlooked ecosystems are systematically destroyed, vast quantities of stored carbon are released into the atmosphere which further exacerbates climate breakdown, fuelling storms and extreme weather events.
Just 100 metres of mangrove forest can reduce wave energy by more than two thirds, but when these habitats are lost, coastal communities are left exposed and vulnerable to the ever increasing storm surges.
Hermawan added:“Because of fishpond over-expansion there was no protection. So when the tsunami occurred, it caused 90 percent loss, with mangrove it could [have been] reduced to 10 percent – we have the data. The world [must] learn that we need natural protection.”
Mangrove re-planting projects such as the Akar Bhumi mangrove planting scheme in Indonesia are vital for the successful restoration of these amazing habitats.
But this alone is not enough – we must protect and restore what we have left.
We need to transform our relationship with nature from one of exploitation to one of respect, protection and harmony. By working with these communities while also pushing for global policy change, we can protect these unique ecosystems and the people who depend on them.
Thriving natural ecosystems are instrumental to our well-being and the health of our planet. Our ability to survive and thrive globally depends on these precious and diverse ecosystems.
Every one of our human rights relies on a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Clean air to breathe, water to drink, food to sustain us: these ecosystems underpin all our lives, not just those of coastal communities.
The Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework must ensure the protection and conservation of mangroves and all other precious ecosystems, and these biodiverse regions must be placed at the very heart of climate action.
Mangrove forests store up to four times more carbon per hectare than tropical rainforests – by protecting these ecosystems we protect ourselves.
Almost universally, between 2011-2020, we failed to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets – at COP15 this year we cannot afford to continue in this fashion.
When we spoke to Hendrik in Indonesia, he said: “I know knowledge is hard, because when we have knowledge, it means we also have the responsibility.”
We know what we must do to protect mangroves and global biodiversity, this knowledge makes it our responsibility to act immediately and safeguard the future of our planet. There is no time left to waste.
Steve Trent is the founder and CEO of the Environmental Justice Foundation.