Forests by the sea

Mangroves and why they are threatened

by Yudhishthra Nathan

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.

What are mangrove forests?

Mangrove trees in the Caribbean sea, Panama, Central America.

Where are mangroves found?
What threats do mangroves face in Southeast Asia?

Rising sea levels threaten the life of mangrove forests.

Why are mangroves important?

Milky storks standing atop mangrove trees in Sungei Buloh nature reserve, Singapore.

Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at
In collaboration with
Yudhishthra Nathan / Freelance Writer

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.

Illustration / Joceline Kuswanto
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