Mangrove Law & Science

Mangrove Resource Libraries

Directory of Select Mangroves Laws

Mangrove Science Database

Mangrove Law Introduction

ELAW is pleased to present a selection of laws and policies that regulate mangroves, their use, protection, and conservation around the world.

Mangroves are distributed in the coastal zone of 123 countries, providing important habitat for marine and coastal species, and protecting coastal communities and nearby ecosystems and fauna. These beautiful trees must be protected, but they are at risk due to unsustainable coastal development and pollution. Mangroves provide important ecosystem services, but it has been a great challenge, at the global level, to regulate their protection and sustainable use.

Mangroves are a forest species, distributed in floodplain coastal areas. They have been recognized as priority areas for conservation because they provide breeding grounds and refuge for fish, migratory birds, and other fauna. This species has great value as a climate regulator because they are important carbon sinks, in addition to generating stability in the soil and being a barrier against erosion and hurricanes.

Mangroves compete for territory due to urban development, tourism, shrimp farms, and other economic activities. This has caused a significant loss of mangroves around the world, which has prompted many governments to raise the level of protection of this species in their respective legal frameworks.

Mangroves are regulated with different tools around the world. Some countries have specific regulations for their use as a forest species, while others apply specific restrictions when they are declared Ramsar sites or recognized as Natural Protected Areas. Some countries have even recognized the importance of mangroves as they relate to food, protecting them in fisheries legal frameworks or criminalizing activities that may cause damage and/or deterioration to mangroves.

Mangrove Science Introduction

Welcome to the Mangrove Science Database, a global resource for lawyers and other professionals who are interested in the value of mangroves and their conservation.

A Case for Mangroves
The approximately 70 distinct species of mangroves in the world cover roughly 17,000,000 hectares globally (Valiela et al.  2001) – only 0.12 percent of the Earth’s surface (Sullivan 2005, Ellison 2008).  The greatest diversity is in Southeast Asia (36-46 species); the lowest diversity is in the United States and the Middle East (1-3 species) (Polidoro et al.  2010).  Mangroves are being cut down or otherwise destroyed at such a high rate that they may be functionally extinct by 2100 (Duke et al.  2007).  In just the last 50 years, 30-50 percent of the global acreage has been lost.  (Alongi 2002, Duke et al. 2007)  Mangroves are among the most valuable and most threatened ecosystems on Earth.  The ecosystems services they provide—e.g., buffering coastal communities against flooding and storms, fiber production, habitat for thousands of species of birds, mammals and marine species—are estimated to be worth US $1.6 billion dollars/year (Polidoro et al.  2010).  In addition, recent evidence suggests that mangroves sequester carbon more effectively than any other tropical forest (Donato et al.  2011).

The Mangrove Science Database includes summaries of more than 65 of the most influential scientific articles from the last 20 years on threats to mangroves and their value as irreplaceable ecosystems.  Articles are filtered by topic and by region & country. The Database also includes brief summaries of the state of the scientific knowledge of the major threats to mangroves.  We will keep the database updated as the state of the scientific knowledge changes.  If you know of an important paper, please bring it to our attention (contact information below).

For inquiries about the information in the database or to suggest new papers please contact Dr. Melissa Garren:

Alongi, D.  M.  2002.  Present state and future of the world’s mangrove forests.  Environmental Conservation 29: 331–349.

Donato, D.  C., J.  B.  Kauffman, D.  Murdiyarso, S.  Kurnianto, M.  Stidham, and M.  Kanninen.  2011.  Mangroves among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics.  Nature Geoscience 4: 293-297.

Duke, N.  C., J.-O.  Meynecke, S.  Dittmann, A.  M.  Ellison, K.  Anger, U.  Berger, S.  Cannicci, K.  Diele, K.  C.  Ewel, C.  D.  Field, N.  Koedam, S.  Y.  Lee, C.  Marchand, I.  Nordhaus, and F.  Dahdouh-Guebas. 2007.  A world without mangroves?  Science 317: 41–42.

Polidoro, B.  A., K.  E.  Carpenter, L.  Collins, N.  C.  Duke, A.  M.  Ellison, J.  C.  Ellison, E.  J.  Farnsworth, E.  S.  Fernando, K.  Kathiresan, N.  E.  Koedam, S.  R.  Livingstone, T.  Miyagi, G.  E.  Moore, N.  N.  Vien, J.  E.  Ong, J.  H.  Primavera, S.  G.  Salmo, J.  C.  Sanciangco, S.  Sukardjo, Y.  M.  Wang, and J.  W.  H.  Yong.  2010.  The loss of species: Mangrove extinction risk and geographic areas of global concern.  PLoS ONE 5(4): e10095.  10.1371/journal.pone.0010095.

Valiela I, J.  L.  Bowen, and J.  K.  York.  2001.  Mangrove forests: One of the world’s threatened major tropical environments.  BioScience 51: 807–815.

Climate Law

The damage that humans are doing to the global climate may be one of the gravest injustices of all time.