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Gabon’s mangroves stand among the world’s tallest but face threats by Hugh Biggar April 15,2021   |  Source: Global Landscapes Forum

On the northern coast of Gabon, the rumble of chainsaws has now joined the usual buzz of insects in the mangrove forests fronting the Atlantic. The chainsaws are just one sign of increased human encroachment into undeveloped areas near the country’s capital, Libreville, leading to calls for conservation action as the importance of Gabon’s mangroves has come into sharper focus.

“Gabon’s mangrove trees are really critical forest biomass because the mangroves store so much carbon,” says Liza Goldberg, a NASA Goddard Flight Center researcher. In the past decade, scientists at the NASA Goddard Flight Center determined that mangroves in Gabon and other Central African nations are among the world’s tallest, with freshwater key to their growth. In Gabon, an abundance of freshwater has enabled mangroves to grow up to 63 meters in height and provide an important brake on climate change.

As part of their research, the NASA scientists created the first map of mangrove heights and learned that the above-ground carbon stored in the tall mangrove trees of Gabon averaged about 244 metric tons per hectare. By comparison, shorter mangrove trees in Nigeria and Brazil sequestered roughly 100 per hectare.

“The amount of freshwater that mangroves have access to either from

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