DEFORESTATION OF MANGROVES RELEASES MORE METHANE THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
A recent study conducted by universities in Australia examining the mangroves in Queensland has found that mangroves release more methane than previously believed.
Mangroves, which are dense forest that buffer land and sea in many coastal areas in the tropics, are renowned for their ability to store carbon. This sequestering is termed “blue carbon”. A tract of mangroves can bury 40 times more carbon than a similarly-sized area of rainforest.
However, the study revealed that carbon is not stored in the mangrove soil permanently, as previously thought. Some carbon dioxide is transformed into methane by microorganisms called archea. The methane is then released back into the atmosphere. This is significant as methane has a much bigger warming impact than carbon dioxide and the methane released has the potential to offset how much carbon dioxide is stored.
These emissions are also exacerbated by deforestation, which has occurred at a fast rate. Between 30 to 50 percent of mangroves have been lost to agriculture, aquaculture and infrastructure development in the past half-century alone.
Researchers estimate that the loss of soil carbon from deforestation of mangroves and other coastal ecosystems contributes to at least three to 19 percent of global deforestation-caused CO2 emissions in addition to economic and ecosystem damage.
ABOVEA dry mangrove forest in Ca Mau, Vietnam