Mangrove swamps victims of their own prosperity
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CTA. 1989. Mangrove swamps victims of their own prosperity. Spore 23. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45126
Mangrove swamps cove. more than 15 million hectares in tropical Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and today are one of the most threatened ecosystems on our planet not just because of their fragility, but particularly because of their prosperity....
Mangrove swamps cove. more than 15 million hectares in tropical Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and today are one of the most threatened ecosystems on our planet not just because of their fragility, but particularly because of their prosperity. They are on the point of being destroyed because the very people who benefit from them are over-exploiting them. The people that live along the water's edge have been using the mangrove swamps for food, medicine, fishing, fuelwood and timber. These people know how to use the riches of their environment without harming it, but nowadays the pressure of rising population and problems arising from drought are forcing people to drop their traditional practices. In some areas the quest for firewood has brought about the destruction of hundreds of mangroves. The same thing has happened with the mangrove fisheries. Tradihonally this exceptionally rich aquatic environment has been exploited without damage, but the desire for bigger profits has brought about the development of aquaculture in ponds or lagoons where fish and shrimps are farmed itensively. This entails heavy use of feedstuffs and antiparasihc chemicals, which in turn causes pollution and destroys fragile plant species. Where these pond enclosures are built of wood the ecological balance of the mangrove swamp is threatened by the destruction of so many trees. The failure of rice projects More destructive still are the results of cultivation. Agronomists have been interested for some years in setting up rice paddies in the swamps - as in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Guinea Bissau. When these projects were pushed through too quickly and did not take into account the swamp environment which is complex and skill relatively little understood, then failure was swift and dramatic. Drought contributed to these failures. For example, in Senegal the paddies installed before 1972 were perfectly successful, but since then the diminishing rainfall has reduced the amount of fresh water available, the soil has become more acid and the salinity level has shot up. The soil of these swamps is very fragile, and man can cause irreversible damage if he destroys the delicate balances of Nature.