Asian coastlines have been harshly hit with erosion and loss of land subsidence, affecting large rural communities. The rise in sea levels has caused an annual increase of 10cm. This steady increase has caused major challenges for those living along the coast and even further inland. Fortunately, a team of Dutch and Indonesian scientists have conjoined their research and are in the process of developing stable resolutions in protecting the coastlines. The main point of focus is the possibility of planting mangroves as a form of restoration. In these densely populated areas, mangroves were usually removed in the past to make room for aquaculture infrastructure. This progressively made the coastlines become vulnerable to erosion, pushing them to where they are now. But now, mangroves could be their saving grace.
The team of scientists conducted strategic studies, measuring the sea levels in both rural and city communities, comparing them to the levels in mangrove inhabited areas. The usual measuring instruments to conduct these studies were not able to be delivered in the remote areas, so the team had to develop a series of methods to properly conduct their studies. To their conclusion, the areas without mangrove presence experience higher rates of sea rise and undergo harsher consequences.
The mangrove solution provides a natural protection against coastal erosion and attenuating waves. But, this solution will only work and be sustainable if there are enough mangrove forests covering the coast. It also needs substantial amounts of sediment supply in order for the plants to take hold within the ground; if there are insufficient amounts, the mangroves’ stability will deteriorate over time. The research also found that areas with mature mangrove forests showed a higher tolerance to the rising sea levels. This study provides a look into the future for these coastlines if action is not immediately taken: inward movement of the mangrove forests will occur, and coastal communities will be forced inland, invading other regions.
"By showing the intricate dynamics between mangroves and their environment, Van Bijsterveldt's findings contribute to developing effective strategies for mitigating the impacts of these pressing issues," stated Diponegoro University Professor, Helmi.
The study has been published in Nature Sustainability.