Mangroves are quite the resilient bunch. The only flowering trees that can exist between land and sea, mangroves derive their name from the Spanish mangle, a name which probably arose during the period of the Spanish colonisation of the Americas in the late 15th century. However, the first mention of mangroves in ancient literature was made by Greek explorers in the time of Alexander the Great.
For centuries since, the intimate dependence between man and mangroves has stood the test of time, as coastal communities from eastern Africa to the western Pacific have not only relied on them for wood to build homes, but have even honoured them as sacred sites of worship. In spite of the variety of ways in which human settlements depend on mangroves over time, they have been disappearing at alarming rates in recent decades due to deforestation. Climate change also foreshadows a world with fewer mangroves. We take a look at what mangroves are, the threats they face, and why these forests by the sea are worth conserving.
Yudhish is an undergraduate in the Bachelor of Environmental Studies programme at the National University of Singapore. A former intern at Kontinentalist, he enjoys exploring how maps can be used to uncover patterns that exist across nature and human societies. As much as he depends on maps to get around, he enjoys losing himself in Singapore’s nature reserves and reservoirs.