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Dr.Tarek Kapiel: The UN COP27 identified mangrove revolution as an essential remedy to climatic changes

Mangrove forests are an important factor affecting biodiversity and humankind.

Many areas have been lost, but things are changing.

As their value as carbon sinks, fish factories and coastal defense systems are fully recognized, more efforts are being made to protect sites and initiate restoration programs.

Conserving mangrove forests themselves is essential to limiting global greenhouse gas emissions, as they store ten times more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests.

Mangrove forests store ten times more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests, making their own preservation critical for restricting global greenhouse gas emissions.

From November 6 to November 18, world leaders were watching and attending two major United Nations conferences of parties (COPs): the 27th UN Climate Change Conference and the 14th Convention on Wetlands “Ramsar” Conference.

During the conference, Global Mangrove Alliance members and partners highlighted mangroves and practical actions that decision makers should take to protect and manage coastal trees and ecosystems.

The State of the World’s Mangroves

Mangroves considered being the most productive ecosystems of the world.

The mangrove shrubs that often grow in coastal saline or brackish water can absorb four to five times more carbon emissions than the tropical forests.

Mangrove forests are viewed as very resilient because they can survive in extremely hot weather conditions and even low levels of oxygen.

They are mostly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions with the Sundarbans in West Bengal being the largest mangrove forest in the world.

Moreover, mangroves store ten times more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests, making their preservation critical for controlling carbon emission levels in the world.

Once mangroves die naturally, the carbon stored in them is taken to the ground, instead of being released outside.

The State of the World’s Mangroves contains the most up-to-date information on what we know about mangroves and what is being taken to safeguard these magnificent habitats.

100 authors from around the world have collaborated in a spectacular synthesis, sharing cutting-edge science and compelling stories. They tell us that we have extensive and reliable knowledge to turn things around for these critical ecosystems.

Mangrove at the UN COP27

In Monday 7 November 2022, Global Mangroves into 2030/2050 – Ramsar COP14 was lead organized by Mangrove Foundation (MCF), China.

This side event reviewed the progress and challenges on global mangrove conservation, promoted consensus among stakeholders in protecting mangrove and blue carbon, and mobilize science-based innovation and synchronized actions in the next decade, under the vision 2050 on biodiversity.

It also called for all parties to support development of international mangrove protection and collaboration mechanism, as well as facilitate the establishment of International Mangrove Center.

In Tuesday 8 November 2022, Building Resilience in Blue Carbon Ecosystems for Coastal Communities – UN Climate COP27 event was Lead Organized by The Commonwealth Blue Charter’s Ocean and Climate Change Action Group (OCCAG), it was carried out as a panel discussion on approaches to mangrove restoration, local community engagement and innovative financing.

This event provided an overview of the science and policy adopted by different nations for better mangrove management, and was showcased case studies from across the Commonwealth.

Panelists also discussed opportunities for Commonwealth countries to build the resilience of mangrove ecosystems.

Launch of the Mangrove Breakthrough – UN Climate COP27 was Lead organized by UN High-Level Climate Champions/Global Mangrove Alliance at Thursday 10 November 2022.

This event launched the Mangrove Breakthrough, a joint initiative of the High-Level Climate Champions and the Global Mangrove Alliance with the aim to align the work of Parties and non-state actors on mangrove action under shared targets and ambition, and to drive and unlock public, philanthropic, and private finance for the protection and restoration of mangrove ecosystems.

Blue carbon is the central theme of this COP. Ocean X Climate Summit – The “Future of the Blue Carbon Roundtable” discussion at UN Climate COP27 summarized key issues and clarified what needs to be done to unlock the potential of blue carbon.

Mangrove Alliance for Climate

The Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) at the ongoing 27th Summit of the Conference of Parties (COP27) organized at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, other members in this alliance include Australia, Japan, UAE, Indonesia, Spain and Sri Lanka.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), along with Indonesia, took the initiative to form this alliance at the ongoing COP27 summit in Egypt.

The main objectives are to improve the pace and scale of mangrove conservation, as well as restoration, across the world.

The alliance hopes to spread awareness about the important role to be played by mangrove forests in combatting climate change.

MAC seeks to “scale up, accelerate conservation, restoration and growing plantation efforts of mangrove ecosystems for the benefit of communities globally, and recognize the importance of these ecosystems for climate change mitigation and adaptation,” according to their official website.

The upcoming G20 Summit that will be held in Bali on November 15-16 will further amplify MAC’s agenda.

A mangrove revolution in Egypt

In Egypt, a two-year government project aimed to rehabilitate mangrove plantations of six Red Sea locations was launched in April 2020.

The project was set to recover a total area of 210 hectares of mangrove forests.

It was to serve as a line of defense, to slow down the effects of climate change – the most pressing of which is rising sea levels.

The rate of rise in Red Sea levels has nearly doubled in recent years, according to a 2021 study. While this project failed to kickstart in some locations, it was a hit in others.

Mangroves, used to grow naturally in 28 sites along Egypt’s Red Sea coasts. Their spread shrunk to around 500 meters only at each location.

Mangroves are the nature’s defenders against beach erosion.

The trees grow in the saline waters to help stabilize soil and protect beaches from erosion during fluctuating tides through their intertwined roots that clamp the ground together.

According to a 2020 study, an acre of growing mangrove trees can absorb between 50 to 220 metric tons of carbon – this is three or four times the amount absorbed by regular forests.

The deterioration of Egypt’s mangroves is the result of the growing construction of tourist villages nearby mangrove forests.

This is as well as recurring oil leaks from shipping lines and oil excavations, and locals’ continuous overgrazing of their herds of camels, goats and sheep.

Therefore, the ongoing project – with a budget of 4 million Egyptian pounds and funded by the government’s Academy of Scientific Research and Technology – should increase mangroves’ spread to 60 acres in each location.

The project aims to address the risks of climate change, including sea level rise and carbon dioxide absorption, and maximize the economic potential of these locations through honeybee projects.

This would transform the mangroves into tourist attractions.

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