Mangrove Planting 101

min read


June 23, 2023

Why are mangroves important?


Mangroves are unique intertidal habitats - where the natural course of tidal influx and river water flow occurs. These habitats are alternately drained and flooded through each tidal cycle. As the water rises and falls daily with the changing tides, nutrients are replenished, transported and flushed. This makes mangrove forests highly productive and dynamic. 


Mangroves produce goods and services of high economic value to the coastal communities, from high-value commercial fish and shellfish species to fuel wood. Mangroves act as a critical buffer against storm surges by slowing the flow of water – a much cheaper option than building extensive sea walls. Research shows that mangroves provide flood protection benefits exceeding $US 65 billion per year and annually, mangrove shields 15 million people from coastal flood and storm surges! Mangroves are also known to store up to 5 times more carbon than terrestrial forests.


Why restoration intervention is needed


Over the last decades, mangroves have experienced significant losses globally. Global mangrove covers declined from 139,777 km2 in 2000 to 131,931 km in 2014. Protecting and restoring these forests is key to fighting climate change, protecting community livelihoods and supporting biodiversity. With your support, we will be working with our planting partners to restore mangroves in Africa. Restoring the mangrove estuary, which is rich in biodiversity, provides fishing grounds for local people. This contributes to the food security and livelihoods of the local communities. In turn, ensures the longevity of the project. 


So, what does it take to restore mangroves? 


I am glad you asked! We are excited to walk you through the steps. But, did you know there are two ways to plant mangroves? First, there is the nursery option. Mangrove nurseries are a place for raising and tending seedlings until they are ready for permanent planting out in the wild. The other method of planting mangrove is much simpler - the planters simply pick and collect propagules off the trees and pick a spot to plant the propagules. 


Propagules that are grown in the nursery usually have a better growth rate and a higher survival rate once they are planted in the wild. The community who works in the nursery can create up to 300 pots a day, from collecting the propagules to planting in the pots.




Mangrove nurseries – where seedlings are nurtured


What happens at mangrove nurseries?

Muddy and clayey soil are used to fill the nursery bags. The soil is usually collected in the nearby creek and mud flats during low tide.

The seeds are sown in nursery bags and transported to the nursery bed after germination.

The propagules and fruits are planted directly in the nursery bags and placed in the nursery bed. 

Nursing the plants include watering, providing adequate shading, weeding, pest control, fertilization and hardening. All of which is key to the long-term survival of the tree.

When the seedlings are ready and in the right season, the planting can finally begin!


Now, let’s get planting! 


Mangrove planting is arduous work. First of all, an early start and a late finish! Getting to the planting site is physically demanding. Our planting partners have to trudge through mangrove channels, in hot knee-deep mud, and the only way to tread through the swamp is barefoot. Mangrove roots are long and extensive. As you tread through the mud, your feet are often poked by the mangrove roots.


Once our planting partners arrive at the planting site, typically around 5,000 propagules will be planted per hectare, this is equivalent to roughly one propagule planted for every two steps taken. Propagules are directly planted at the planting site by inserting them up to one–third of their length. 




An inclusive approach to ensure long-term success of mangrove restoration


The goal of mangrove restoration is to empower the impoverished coastal community to break the poverty cycle. By restoring the mangrove estuary, which is rich in biodiversity, to provide fishing grounds for local people. Creation of additional income streams, including sustainable harvests from the mangrove forests and ecotourism. The additional income streams contribute to the food security and livelihoods and health of the local communities. In turn, ensures the long-term success of the restoration intervention. The restored forests will help to stabilize coastlines. This will act as a vital line of defense to protect the land and the communities during tropical storms. 

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