In my June blog I reported on the findings of a group of researchers on the impacts of tidal cycles on long-term changes in mangroves. Lately Eric Gilman and others have argued that based on available evidence, relative sea level rise maybe the greatest threat to mangroves. Mangroves are usually found in the tropics associated with freshwater discharges along coastlines and small islands, and play a vital role in fisheries and coastal stability.
In the abstract of their paper published earlier this year in Aquatic Botany they conclude that "Rising sea-level will have the greatest impact on mangroves experiencing net lowering in sediment elevation, where there is limited area for landward migration."
Although there is still the need for further research, the paper makes it very clear that better management of the catchments and the coastal zone, combined with the protection and rehabilitation of degraded mangrove areas are important adaptation options to offset the impacts of sea-level rise on mangroves. We need to have robust management regimes in place if we are to minimise the impacts of sea-level rise. Indeed the ongoing project Mangroves for the Future initiative (MMF) provides an important framework for considering those issues within the Indian Ocean islands and coastal states.