A blog post by Courtney Henf, Junior Associate
Climate change is an ever-growing problem that society cannot disregard because the effects are catastrophic. From surging tides to rising temperatures to more severe storms, climate change diminishes many of Earth’s natural lines of defense. Natural barriers serve as the Earth’s system of protection against the harmful effects of climate change. However, laws and regulations to preserve and protect natural barriers are scarce. Cue mangroves. Mangroves sequester carbon at an astoundingly high rate and are worth at least $1.6 billion annually because they support coastal ecosystems and the livelihoods of global human populations. However, mangrove populations are dwindling, and there is little being done to protect them. Governments need to enact laws to deter the removal, harm, or disturbance of these “walking trees,”  because society cannot continue to overlook their vital role as natural barriers.
Following Hurricane Irma in 2017, mangroves protected over half a million people and prevented $1.5 billion in flood damages. Mangroves are invaluable, and their treatment should reflect such irreplaceability. In 1996, Florida enacted the Mangrove Trimming & Preservation Act, but supplemental legislation has not followed. Such outdated laws need a rejuvenation. Moreover, in 2022, Indonesia announced goals for rehabilitating 600,000 hectares of mangroves, but conflicting job creation law and minerals and coal law simultaneously legalize the destruction of mangroves. Contradicting laws inhibit restoration efforts because there is no consequence to harming the mangrove populations since their removal is legal. Society must eliminate antithetical law that permits mangrove habitat destruction and effectuate clear and concise law demanding protection.
Governments, foreign and domestic, must take action to preserve mangroves because their deforestation is responsible for nearly 12 percent of all tropical forest greenhouse gas emissions.  Transforming mangrove populations from a carbon sink, a vessel that absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, into a carbon source is adverse to their existence.
Mangroves are naturally and freely capable of mitigating the damaging effects of climate change.
Imposing legislation to restore and preserve mangroves will enable humanity to mitigate the international effects of climate change cost-effectively and sustainably.
 What is Climate Change?, United Nations, https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/what-is-climate-change (last visited Feb. 5, 2023).
 Miami Waterkeeper, Natural Barriers Provide Effective Storm Protection, Miami Waterkeeper: Corals Blog (Jan. 25, 2018), https://www.miamiwaterkeeper.org/natural_barriers_provide_effective_storm_protection.
 Mitigating Climate Change Through Coastal Ecosystem Management, The Blue Carbon Initiative, https://www.thebluecarboninitiative.org/ (last visited Jan. 8, 2023).
 Red Mangrove, The Nat’l Wildlife Fed’n, https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Plants-and-Fungi/Red-Mangrove#:~:text=Red%20mangroves%20are%20sometimes%20called,they%20are%20walking%20on%20water (last visited Feb.. 5, 2023).
 Mangroves Reduce Flood Damages During U.S. Hurricanes, Saving Billions of Dollars in Property Losses, The Nature Conservancy (Oct. 29, 2019) https://www.nature.org/en-us/newsroom/mangroves-reduce-florida-flood-damages/.
 SOUTH FLORIDA AQUATIC ENVIRONMENTS – Conservation – Mangroves, Florida Museum, (Oct. 3, 2018),
 Gafur Abdullah, Indonesia’s mangrove revival hindered by conflicting policies, Mongabay (Dec. 12, 2022), https://news.mongabay.com/2022/12/indonesias-mangrove-revival-hindered-by-conflicting-policies/.
 Oregon State University, Greenhouse gas effect caused by mangrove forest conversion is quite significant, Phys.Org (Apr. 10, 2017) https://phys.org/news/2017-04-greenhouse-gas-effect-mangrove-forest.html.
 Joe Gosling, Decades of mangrove forest change, (Jan. 4, 2023) https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/dafa4c7f94dc4ebbb65fa340228fc6b9.