Paper No. 173-4
Presentation Time: 2:20 PM
ANTHROPOGENIC IMPACT: MANGROVES ESTUARIES NEED MORE ATTENTION AND PROTECTION (Invited Presentation)
Coastal estuaries accommodate some of the largest cities and urban centers around the world. They also remove carbon from the atmosphere through their vegetation, water, sediments, and soil, potentially sequestering more carbon than the rain forest for equivalent surface areas and are similarly very rich in biodiversity with a wide variety of plants, fish, and wildlife. As a result of rapid urbanization, population increase, farming and aquaculture, logging, insufficient plastic and other waste management, and climate change, there is exponential increase in stress and threats to these coastal environments. The vital ecological habitat that is unique to mangrove estuaries is thus imperiled. Mangrove estuaries are among the most valuable, as well as the most vulnerable carbon sinks in the world. As there are no signs that coastal tourism, shoreline settlement, and development along the estuaries will slow down, solutions are needed at all levels. Scientists must step up efforts to show the value of marine and coastal research work to all stake holders. Through our NSF-sponsored International Research Experience for Students project in the Wouri Estuary, we explore the impact of people, plastic litter, and other pollution in a tropical mangrove estuary.