A coastal conservation marvel
by Marcello Rossi on Medium
Just two decades ago, the waterfront of Miani Hor, a swampy lagoon along the Arabian Sea coastline in Pakistan’s western province of Balochistan, was no more than a barren strip of land nearly devoid of vegetation. Today, it is awash with lush thickets of velvety green mangroves, their signature aerial roots poking through the lagoon’s brackish water.
The return of mangroves to Miani Hor is part of a vast ecological revival taking hold across Pakistan — one with huge implications for climate change. Hugging tropical and subtropical coastlines, mangroves are trees and shrubs that tolerate salt, thrive in wetlands and rank among the most endangered habitats on earth. More than a third of the earth’s mangrove area has been lost since 1980, destroyed for coastal development, chopped down for timber, or poisoned by industrial pollution. And although the rate of loss is slowing, mangroves are still disappearing three to five times faster than land-based forests — especially in Asia, where deforestation has massively increased over the past 30 years.
But Pakistan stands out as a notable exception. After losing as much as three-quarters of its mangrove forest over the past century, in the early 1990s the South Asian nation began restoring its mangroves. What began as a series of small, piecemeal efforts eventually grew into one of the most ambitious reforestation campaigns in the world. Now, under a nationally coordinated effort, Pakistan has restored vast swathes of degraded mangrove habitat and become one of the few places to have experienced a net gain in mangrove area in recent years.
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