Written article for Akela Expeditions
Brazil has the world’s largest mangrove area: more than one million hectares running along the coast. These forests are unique, and among the most endangered habitats in the world. We are going to discover this Brazilian mangrove near Santa Cruz Cabralia, a small village located in the Bahia region between Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. There is a small private property from which it is possible to go by boat to discover the mangrove.
We begin our journey through this incredible ecosystem accompanied by our Brazilian guide, who shares with us his knowledge and experience. We let ourselves be carried by the rhythm of the water through this tropical forest, observing around us the dense vegetation still spared.
Mangrove or the richness of a threatened ecosystem
For a long time, mangroves have been considered useless, smelly and mosquito-infested areas. This perception has evolved, in part through the work of scientists and public awareness. The mangroves gradually reveal their unique characteristics. It is rich in biological diversity, with hundreds of bird species using mangrove as nesting and migration sites. This forest, with its feet in the water, protects the coastal and marine species living within it (crabs, fish, birds, etc.), but its role goes far beyond that; it filters and purifies water, Preventing coastal erosion and its ability to absorb C02 contributes to limiting global warming.
Humans are the main threat to mangroves: logging, urbanization, oil extraction, tourism development and shrimp farming. These are all causes of the destruction of this fragile ecosystem, which is essential to the survival of many species and which also looks out for us.
Shrimp, an industry with devastating consequences
Shrimp aquaculture in Brazil is in the sights of international companies. Its mass development, as it may have been in Asia, may have an impact on both mangroves and wetlands. This large-scale industry uses pesticides and antibiotics in ponds, which pollutes water and results in the loss of marine and coastal habitats, such as mangroves. Ecosystem-wide impacts include loss of fish, migratory bird habitat, and soil erosion, natural flood protection. Recent laws protect mangroves in some areas, but their application is not really enforced. In the face of short-term financial interests, policies could easily be tempted to yield to the sirens of profit.
The mangrove is a wonderful place to dive into the heart of a unique fauna, far from civilization. Our navigation continues, birds, crocodiles and giant wasp nests punctuate our journey. The mangrove reveals itself timidly, it has so much to offer that it has an air of “get back to it”.
So don’t hesitate on your next trip to Brazil. Discover the treasures of the mangrove. See for yourself how much its flora and fauna deserve our attention.
To help preserve it, you can act as consumers. You can choose in your next races organic shrimp like those from Madagascar, a lot of efforts are made there to make the fisheries more environmentally friendly, or Iceland, where new fishing techniques avoiding incidental catches are being implemented.
So we mobilize for the mangrove from the plate? 🙂