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Raising Global Awareness is Critical to Protect World’s Mangroves: UN Science Chief

Time is running out to protect the world's mangroves, which not only provide habitat for many species but also serve as an important buffer against climate change, according to the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Tuesday.

Shivam Dwivedi
Mangrove Ecosystem
Mangrove Ecosystem

In her message to mark the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay called for greater global awareness about these critical coastal areas. “More than three-quarters of the world's mangroves are now threatened, and with them all the fine balances that depend on them," she said.

Azoulay announced that UNESCO will launch a new mangrove restoration project in seven Latin American countries, including Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, and Peru, beginning next month.

The project will provide economic opportunities to the surrounding communities. It will also facilitate knowledge exchange and sharing between indigenous and local populations and the scientific community.

"We need global awareness in addition to protection and restoration." "This necessitates educating and alerting the public, not only in schools but everywhere," she said.

This spirit is reflected in a UNESCO-designed exhibition for Thailand's National Science Museum, which is now touring the world, "because it is also by showing and explaining the mysteries of mangroves that we will be able to sustainably preserve them," she added. Azoulay emphasized the goal of the International Day, which encourages everyone to become aware of the value, beauty, and vulnerability of mangrove ecosystems and to commit to protecting them.

"From the intertwining roots to the tips of the branches, many species come to feed and reproduce in a complex habitat, forming one of the most flourishing ecosystems in existence." And we humans rely on these environments to slow coastal erosion and provide food for many," she said.

The UN cultural chief also mentioned Tomás González, a Colombian poet who has made mangroves the symbol of one of his books. Azoulay quoted from his poetry collection Manglares, which is Spanish for "mangroves," which calls for a return to nature's essential unity:

"So that the trees first emerge, then blur and merge with the air, the landscape behind, the mudflats; so that the gannet dives into the sea in an instant sprinkled with salt, sun, glare; / and so that the sea first gleams, then merges with the land."

Through initiatives such as Geoparks, World Heritage sites, and Biosphere reserves, UNESCO is working to protect the world's mangroves and other "blue carbon ecosystems." Azoulay, on the other hand, warned that time is running out. "However, time is running out in the face of the climate emergency, and we must go even further, because mangroves are also carbon sinks that we cannot afford to lose," she said.

(Source: United Nations)

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