Edited by Edward B. Barbier and Suthawan Sathirathai
Chapter 2: The Importance of Mangroves: Ecological Perspectives and Socio-Economic Values
2. The importance of mangroves: ecological perspectives and socio-economic values Sanit Aksornkoae, Ruangrai Tokrisna, Wattana Sugunnasil and Suthawan Sathirathai THE ECOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPORTANCE OF MANGROVES Mangroves serve as a link between marine and terrestrial ecosystems. These communities are clearly important to the stability and maintenance of various adjoining ecosystems, for example, seagrass beds, coral reefs and marine life. Mangroves represent a unique habitat for a diverse variety of marine and terrestrial animals. The amount of organic matter produced by mangroves will support not only the mangrove ecosystem itself but also other related ecosystems. Moreover, mangroves also play an important role in stabilizing shorelines in coastal streams and estuaries by protecting them against tidal bores and soil erosion. It is firmly believed that, if the mangrove communities along the banks of estuaries and coastlines were disturbed, or were to be completely cut down, there would be no habitats or adequate food to support the organisms in these areas. Consequently, the loss of these mangrove-related ecosystems would disturb the natural ecological systems over a considerable area. Thus mangrove forests are recognized as having significant ecological and environmental values. However, it is difficult to quantify these values. Details of ecological and environmental values of mangroves can be discussed as follows. Feeding and nursery ground for fisheries Mangroves play a very important role as habitat, nursery and a source of food for both commercial fishery species and other marine fauna. Several studies of mangrove-associated fish populations in Thailand provide evidence that Thai mangrove...
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