Increasing Awareness of Mangroves and How They Can Help Fight Climate Change
TotalEnergies’ French corporate foundation, as part of the TotalEnergies Foundation program, signed an agreement in 2019 with the BOREA aquatic biology laboratory of France’s National Natural History Museum. Under the deal, the foundation supports research on mangroves as well as the production of a documentary to raise awareness among young people of the essential environmental role played by these forests between land and sea.
Mangroves are intertropical coastal forests whose trees – also known as mangroves – grow with their roots in the water. Between 1980 and 2010, mangrove forests shrunk by 35% worldwide, with the biggest losses in Southeast Asia and Africa. Currently, an area equivalent to 150,000 soccer stadiums is destroyed each year. The world’s 150,000 square kilometers of mangroves are home to many animal and plant species including crabs, fish, crustaceans, birds, snakes, monkeys, algae and shrubs, which risk disappearing with the forests. Mangroves also filter water and inhibit coastal erosion. And the sediment in their soil has an unparalleled ability to absorb greenhouse gases, helping to limit global warming.
“We’ve still got a lot to learn about mangroves. We need to keep studying these ecosystems so we can better protect them,” says Tarik Meziane, a marine ecologist and researcher at the BOREA laboratory. Meziane studies the impact of eutrophication on mangroves’ natural capacity to store blue carbon. He has warned of the decline in water quality linked mainly to aquaculture, pollution, urbanization, agriculture, logging and other human activities – a phenomenon that is weakening mangrove systems. One of the aims of Meziane and his team is to understand the impact of organic additions to mangrove soils, as well as how crabs influence the ability of sediments to act as a carbon sink.
 Eutrophication in aquatic ecosystems is an environmental imbalance caused by increased concentrations of nitrogen or phosphorus.
 Blue carbon is the carbon stored by marine plants.
An educational documentary for the younger generation entitled Mangrove, a Sea Forest has been produced to raise awareness of this unique ecosystem and the essential role it plays.
Running roughly 15 minutes and available for free on YouTube, it provides an overview on mangroves, the extraordinary adaptability of the atypical species they host, the work of researchers studying them, the challenges they help overcome and the dangers threatening them.