Why is planting only part of the solution?

If problems degrading existing mangrove forests are not addressed prior to introducing new seedlings, planting projects can be prone to failure. Such failures often occur because of poor mangrove species selection for the planting site, since different species grow in water of varying saltiness and nutrient conditions, and at a variety of elevations in the intertidal zone. Selecting appropriate project sites is also important. In some cases, planting can assist with or enrich natural regeneration — however, non-mangrove habitat, as well as mangrove areas that have already started to regenerate naturally, should generally be avoided.

What we need is a combination of planting, restoration, and protection from deforestation for existing mangroves. Done right, these actions have clear economic and ecological benefits [1], enabling us to reduce emissions and support wildlife, coastal communities, and all of us. For example, recent studies suggest that every $1 invested in mangrove conservation and restoration generates a net benefit of $3 [2]. Overall, by adopting appropriate restoration and protection strategies around the world, it is estimated that mangrove ecosystems have a total mitigation potential of between 0.18 and 0.29 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year by 2050 [3] — which represents the 2019 emissions of the Netherlands and Spain, respectively [4]. Of these potential benefits, over 10% are thought to come from mangrove conservation, and up to 90% from correctly implemented mangrove restoration.

You can learn how Only One approaches their projects to protect and revitalize mangroves on their Projects page.

  1. Su, J., Friess, D.A., & Gasparatos, A. (2021), A meta-analysis of the ecological and economic outcomes of mangrove restoration. Nat Commun 12, 5050. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25349-1
  2. High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, A Sustainable Ocean Economy for 2050: Approximating Its Benefits and Costs. https://oceanpanel.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Ocean-Panel_Economic-Analysis_FINAL.pdf.
  3. Hoegh-Guldberg O, Caldeira K, Chopin T, Gaines, S., Haugan, P., Hemer, M., Howard, J., Konar, M., Krause-Jensen, D., Lindstad, E., Lovelock, C.E., Michelin, M., Nielsen, F.G., Northrop, E., Parker, R., Roy, J., Smith, T., Some, S.,Tyedmers P. (2019), The Ocean as a Solution to Climate Change: Five Opportunities for Action. Report Washington DC: World Resources Institute. https://oceanpanel.org/report/climate-change-call-to-action/.
  4. Ritchie H., Roser M., & Rosado P. (2020), CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. https://ourworldindata.org/greenhouse-gas-emissions
About the author

Vasiliki I. Chalastani is a PhD candidate at the Laboratory of Harbour Works, National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece. Her thesis, “Optimization Approaches for Marine Spatial Planning,” aims to develop tools for optimal use of the marine environment through reconciliation of human activities and conservation features. Previously, following her undergraduate studies as a civil engineer at NTUA, Chalastani pursued her MSc, “Water Air Pollution and Energy at Global and Regional Scales,” at École Polytechnique, Paris, France. While in France, she has completed an internship at the Laboratoire Océanographique de Villefranche and at École Normale Supérieure on ocean-based solutions. From 2018 to 2019, Chalastani acted as a consultant for the Alternate Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy of Greece, Nektarios Santorinios. In 2018, she worked for the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Paris, with Alexandre K. Magnan, on the issue of climate change adaptation. In 2019, Chalastani worked for the Saudi Red Sea Project, developing a preliminary marine spatial planning initiative, under the supervision of Carlos M. Duarte. She is a member of the National Chamber of Engineers and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), Greece.