Scientific News

Mangroves are essential to protect coastlines from flooding and should be protected

The mangroves, with their intricate development, act as barriers and reduce annual flooding at the most critical points around the globe. Another new study underlines the positive aspects of this plant and its intrinsic and particular growth capacity in relation to savings, in terms of billions of dollars per year, which allow the reduction of flood risks.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, highlights how these plants are even more important today, and in the near future, due to the ongoing climate change that is actually increasing the risks of coastal flooding caused by rising sea levels and the increasing intensity of hurricanes.

Researchers have considered more than 700,000 km of coastline around the world by creating models and analysing flood risk and the benefits of this plant.
The results show that mangroves actually reduce flooding and that more economic incentives would be needed to protect these plants.

“Now that we can assess these flood protection benefits, all kinds of new opportunities are opening up to finance mangrove conservation and restoration with savings for insurance premiums, storm reconstruction, climate adaptation and community development,” says Michael Beck, professor at the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California at Santa Cruz, one of the authors of the study with Pelayo Menéndez, his colleague at the same institute.

The mangrove tree is a plant that is widespread basically all over the world, but many of them have been destroyed or have died for activities such as aquaculture and coastal development in general, a development that often sees the construction of infrastructures right near the areas where these plants are born and grow.

Just think of the case of Florida: since the beginning of the last century the intense development near the coasts of this American state has caused a contingent loss of real mangrove forests. This loss has resulted in more floods and floods.

The most positive characteristic of these plants is that they are resistant and can grow like weeds, even in the middle of the city, if given “half a chance”, as Beck himself explains.