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New mangrove study shows exactly how coastal forests protect economic activity during cyclones by Adam Moolna June 09,2019   |  Source: The Conversation

Mangroves are incredibly productive coastal ecosystems found in the tropics and subtropics. These dense green forests are known for their bizarre-looking roots that poke up into the air from shallow water. Among the meshed webs of roots are fish nurseries, enabling humans to make a living from the marine life in and around the mangroves.

Mangroves also play another important role for humans, protecting communities from major storms. Climate change is more than rising temperatures, and the increased frequency and intensity of cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons is apparent. Cyclone Fani for example, which recently struck the Bay of Bengal, was one of the strongest to devastate India in the past 20 years.

Mangrove roots can break up the force of a storm surge, soaking up some of its energy and protecting people living on coasts from cyclone damage. Yet it is a challenge to effectively value and protect individual mangrove ecosystems. And we just don’t have the people or funds to deliver detailed studies for even a fraction of the villages and towns sheltered by mangroves.

That is where we need a global rule of thumb that can be applied anywhere. It needs to be rigorously evidenced, and trusted enough for economic values to be used in planning calculations by governments

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