What are mangroves?
Mangroves are coastal flood forests that inhabit the tropics and subtropics (latitudes 20º N – 20º S, between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn). These forests are always along the coast, very close to the sea, and are made up of highly specialized trees and shrubs that are capable of resisting daily floods from tides and of resisting the salinity of the sea, which is toxic for many other trees.
Mangroves, apart from sea water, also need to receive a source of fresh water. This is the reason for the proximity to rivers or streams. They are considered “amphibian” ecosystems as they have one foot on land and the other in the sea.
Owing to their proximity to the sea, mangroves and other coastal wetlands, such as seagrass beds and marshlands, are known as blue carbon ecosystems. These blue carbon ecosystems are characterized by having a very rapid growth (faster than tropical forests) and by accumulating a large amount of biomass in the soil, since the organic matter of the soil remains flooded and does not decompose due to lack of oxygen.
It is estimated that, originally, about 75% of the coasts of the tropics had mangroves among their vegetation. The diversity of species in these forests is reduced, as only a few can survive the lack of oxygen due to flooding and high salinity.