What are mangroves and where do they grow?

Mangroves are a diverse group of about 70 tree, shrub, and fern species that form salt-tolerant intertidal ecosystems. They grow in oxygen-poor soils, mostly along sheltered coasts [1] in the tropics and subtropics, with some occurrences in warm temperate zones. Global mangrove cover has been estimated at 81,500 to 152,400 square kilometers [2; 3], or 15,100 to 28,400 football fields, across 118 countries. However, around 75% of all mangrove forests are located in just 15 nations, mostly in Asia, with around 23% found in Indonesia alone [4], where extensive coastlines and humid conditions allow mangroves to thrive.

  1. Ellison, A. M., Felson, A. J., & Friess, D. A. (2020), Mangrove Rehabilitation and Restoration as Experimental Adaptive Management. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00327.  
  2. Spalding, M., Kainuma, M., & Collins, L. (2010), World Atlas of Mangroves. Earthscan.
  3. Hamilton, S. E. & Casey, D. (2016), Creation of a high spatio-temporal resolution global database of continuous mangrove forest cover for the 21st century (CGMFC-21). Global Ecology and Biogeography, 25(6), 729-738. doi: 10.1111/geb.12449.
  4. Giri, C., Ochieng, E., Tieszen, L. L., Zhu, Z., Singh, A., Loveland, T., Masek, J., & Duke, N. (2011), Status and distribution of mangrove forests of the world using earth observation satellite data. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20(1), 154-159. doi: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00584.x.
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.