Since 2015, the International Day for the Defense of the Mangrove Ecosystem is celebrated on July 26, according to UNESCO.
Why is the International Mangrove Ecosystem Day celebrated?
The date was chosen in honor of environmental activist Hayhow Daniel Nanoto, who sadly passed away on July 26, 1998 due to cardiac arrest while carrying out protest actions against an illegal shrimp farm in the community of Muisne, Ecuador. This date seeks to remember his brave work in defense of the environment and raise awareness of the environmental problems we face.
However, it was in 2015, during the General Conference of UNESCO, that a formal request was made to the Director General of this organization to establish the 26th of July as the International Day for the Defense of the Mangrove Ecosystem. This proposal was approved the following year, thus recognizing the importance and need to protect these valuable ecosystems.
The organizations that promoted the establishment of this day of environmental awareness are Ecologists in Action and Red Manglar International, two non-governmental non-profit organizations.
Purpose of the celebration of this day of the mangroves
The main objective of these organizations and coastal communities in the tropics is to prevent the advance of companies that seek to profit from nature, even at the cost of its deterioration or damage.
According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), there has been a worrying decline in the number of mangroves worldwide over the last 40 years. More than 50% of these ecosystems have disappeared, mainly due to overuse by the shrimp industry in areas where they naturally occur. This serious situation poses significant challenges for the conservation and protection of these valuable natural habitats.
It is important to highlight that the degradation of the mangrove ecosystem has an impact not only on the environment, but also on the human communities that depend on it. Settlements close to these ecosystems are negatively affected by loss of flood protection, depletion of fisheries resources and collapse of ecological balance. Therefore, it is essential to take measures to prevent the indiscriminate destruction of mangroves and to protect nature and local communities.
Deforestation of the mangrove ecosystem not only threatens the food sovereignty of communities, but also removes an important natural barrier against natural disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes and other serious problems caused by climate change.
Where is the mangrove ecosystem located?
Mangroves are highly productive ecosystems and can be found in 123 countries around the world, mostly in tropical and subtropical regions. Although the largest mangroves are in Brazil and Mexico, practically all of Latin America and the Caribbean have these ecosystems.
Mangroves are unique ecosystems that form in coastal areas protected from waves. These woody forests develop on soils flooded by salt water or marine water, which gives them special characteristics and differentiates them from other types of vegetation.
Importance of the mangrove ecosystem
Mangroves are a valuable ecosystem that plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change. These special areas have the ability to absorb carbon dioxide and store it in their roots, which helps reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This phenomenon is known as a carbon sink or blue carbon, and it is also a form of natural defense against maritime storms and hurricanes, protecting the coasts where it grows.
Mangroves are considered one of nature’s most valuable ecosystems. This is due to a number of fundamental reasons:
- Its role in maintaining biodiversity.
- Nutrient retention.
- Climate regulation.
- Preservation of water quality.
- Natural protection of coastal environments.
With information from: