Mangrove conversion takes huge environmental toll

New policy brief outlines benefits of mangrove conservation

A tidal mangrove forest in Belize. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Conversion of mangrove forests is taking a huge toll on coastal ecosystems, an international team of researchers said, warning that replacing tidal forest with shrimp farms and other forms of development is a bad economic tradeoff both short and long-term.

“The benefits of this industry have too often been short lived due to poor planning with ponds being abandoned when pollution or disease take hold, leaving unproductive saline pools and depleted coastal fisheries,” said Hanneke Van Lavieren, a United Nations University scientist who was the lead author of the recent policy brief. Continue reading

Earthquakes destroy, but can also restore ecoysystems

Study in Chile shows importance of protecting sandy beaches as barriers against rising sea level

This March 2010 photograph of the beach at Punta Lavapie reveals the extent of the uplift –– these former subtidal rocky bottoms were completely submerged in water –– at all times –– prior to the Maule earthquake and tsunami.
PHOTO COURTESY EDUARDO JARAMILLO.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The devastating 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Chile had some unexpected consequences, restoring lost beaches and even entire coastal ecoystems, according to an international team of researchers who had a unique opportunity to take a close before-and-after look at the ecological impact of the 8.8 magnitude temblor.

“Dune plants are coming back in places there haven’t been plants, as far as we know, for a very long time. The earthquake created sandy beach habitat where it had been lost. This is not the initial ecological response you might expect from a major earthquake and tsunami,” said Jenifer Dugan, an associate research biologist at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. Continue reading

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