Mangrove forests in Mozambique

Find out more about the mangrove forests, one of Mozambique’s most important ecosystems, including the the main goods and services that it provides.

Mangroves can be defined as woody plants that grow at the interface between land and sea in subtropical and tropical tidal environments where they exist in conditions of high salinity, extreme tides, strong winds, adverse temperatures, and muddy/sandy substrates. There is no other group of plants with such highly developed morphological and physiological adaptation to extreme conditions on Earth.

The muddy or sandy sediments of mangroves are home to a huge variety of epibenthic infaunal and meiofaunal invertebrates. These macrofauna form an important link between mangrove detritus at the base of the mangrove food web and consumers at higher trophic levels, which include birds and commercial fish species.

The current estimate of mangrove forest area in Mozambique varies from 290,000 ha to 368,000 ha depending on the year of assessment and source of information. Based on a recent assessment, 28% of these mangroves occur in the Zambezi Delta, which also represents the single largest area of mangrove forests in Africa. Globally, Mozambique ranks 13th in terms of mangrove coverage, which is equivalent to approximately 2.3% of the World’s mangrove forest area.

In Mozambique, mangrove forests provide numerous goods and services to the communities living along the coast. They are critical habitats, particularly since they are crucial to the functioning and integrity of coastal and marine habitats, provide a nutrient rich environment and shelter for juvenile fish and marine invertebrates, in particular for commercial prawns that are harvested in open waters. In addition, mangrove trees are used as construction material, firewood, and as a source of tannins used to preserve and camouflage fishing gear, stabilize the coastline by preventing erosion, contribute to detoxification and depuration of waste waters, and protect inland areas from weather extremes such as storm surge and extreme high tide events. Carbon storage is also an important service provided by this ecosystem.

Should this ecosystem disappears the results can be catastrophic. Biodinâmica assesses and monitors coastal ecosystems (including the mangroves) and the associated biodiversity. At the end of 2014 Biodinâmica has published the Mozambique Marine Ecosystems Review in partnership with Centro terra Viva, a study commissioned by Fondation Ensemble.

Carlos Litulo

Biodiversity Specialist