Gabon plumbs carbon thriller of its mighty mangrove timber

An aerial view exhibits mangrove timber, in Pongara Nationwide Park, Gabon, October 15, 2021. Image taken with a drone. Reuters/Christophe Van Der Perre

Pongara Nationwide Park: The towering timber in Gabon’s impenetrable mangrove swamps have helped to make the Central African nation one of many world’s few internet absorbers of carbon because the crops sequester the greenhouse fuel 4 occasions sooner than forests on land.

Whereas the world struggles to curb local weather change and U.N. talks on the difficulty start on the finish of the month, nations reminiscent of Gabon are attempting to work out precisely how a lot carbon is locked of their mangroves.

“We don’t actually have numerous info on the mangrove forests in comparison with the terra firma forests,” mentioned Vincent Medjibe, who collects carbon information for Gabon’s Nationwide Parks Company. “We’re engaged on it.”

Throughout the estuary from the mangrove-rich Pongara Nationwide Park, the rising capital Libreville exemplifies the menace mangroves face. In a single outer neighbourhood, dry tussocks and muddy holes are what stay of a former swamp that has been illegally cleared for development.

In addition to storing carbon, the swamps are wealthy in wildlife and function pure flood defences.

A resident who gave her title solely as Christella mentioned she was anxious her future neighbours did not realise the hazard. “They’re in a basin of types and when the heavy rains come, the water can rise,” she mentioned.

The optimistic information is that consciousness is rising.

Within the final 20 years, mangroves have recovered from being one of many world’s fastest-shrinking habitats to one of many best-protected with over 40% in a legally protected space, a July report by a coalition referred to as the World Mangrove Alliance discovered.

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Gabon solely started to understand the complete extent of its mangroves in 2018 when a research within the journal Nature Geoscience used satellite tv for pc imagery to find a few of the estuary’s timber have been greater than 65 metres excessive, taller than the Sydney Opera Home, making them the world’s tallest mangroves.

NASA earth scientist Lola Fatoyinbo, who co-authored the research, mentioned information was bettering quickly.

“Science has gotten higher, our understanding of their position as actually vital carbon sinks has gotten higher and so consciousness has turn out to be better,” she informed Reuters.

Mangroves are present in over 100 nations. People who lack monitoring capability can use a web-based map and information platform referred to as World Mangrove Watch. It sends out alerts in close to real-time when it picks up indicators of disturbance.

In Gabon, public consciousness drives are designed to cut back the strain on Libreville’s mangroves and the nation’s area observatory helps to trace the mangroves that fringe practically half of the 1,485 km coast, head of environmental safety Stanislas Stephen Mouba informed Reuters.

“There is a very enormous logistical side if you wish to cowl all of the mangroves of Gabon, however with this type of software we are able to use it as an early warning system … they’ll say ‘oh, we have now to ship folks right here,'” he mentioned.