The mangrove habitat is very delicate as it depends on very many different natural factors. These include the temperature of the air and water, salinity of the water, the composition of the soil and the tidal periods. Because it is dependent on so many factors the habitat is very likely to change if one of the influencing factors change. So we believe it is a great habitat to monitor environmental changes. We do this by monitoring the flowering and fruiting process of the mangrove species that occur along our coast. Monitoring means we are doing a long term survey to see if we notice any changes, in for instance when a species flowers, over time. We are also looking at what birds we can find and how they are using the mangroves; we will monitor the crabs of the mangroves, because their well-being gives us clues about the general condition of the environment; and last but not least we will be keeping track of human disturbance within the mangroves. For more information on the mangrove habitat, click here.
How You Can Contribute
Our Mangrove Watch project is a citizen science project, which means you can join and become one of our front line strikers. You go into the field and collect that data we need to draw conclusions and that in turn supports us in negotiations to protect the mangroves. Joining is simple: Just contact us to sign up for our monthly training session every 1st Saturday of the month from 10:00AM to 11:00AM. The location for the training session alternates between Beree Badalla Boardwalk in Palm Beach and Coombabah Lakelands Mangroven Boardwalk.
How it Works
Along the Gold Coast we have 5 different locations in which you will do the data collection. There are 2 in the North: Phil Hill Environemental Park in Paradise Point and Coombabah Lakelands; And 3 locations in the south: Elanora Wetlands Habitat, David Fleay Wildlifepark in Burleigh Heads and Beree Badalla in Palm Beach.
After participating in the training session you will receive a Mangrove Watch pack containing step-by-step instructions and datasheets, along with everything else you need to collect data for us.
It is completely up to you which and how many different sites you visit, when you visit them and which and how many of the different data sheets you fill in. You do what interests you, in your own time. What we do ask of you is to fill in the datasheets truthfully and if you are uncertain about something, to state it clearly in the sheet so we can check. Our aim is to have at least one set of data sheets filled in at every site, once a month. So we want to recruit many enthusiastic people like you. Not sure if this is something for you? Not a problem, the training session gives you a proper, hands on introduction to the project, after which you can still make up your mind whether or not you would like to join.
Why Are Mangroves Important?
Mangroves are very unique ecosystems providing crucial life support for many birds and aquatic animals in forms that cannot be substituted by another ecosystem. The shallow, gently flowing water and the cover and shade of the mangroves’ tangled roots are an ideal place for molluscs and crustaceans to live and for baby fish to grow big enough to face the perils of the open ocean. In fact, 7 out of 10 fish species that we eat spend part of their lives in mangroves.
Many birds nest in the mangroves as they offer shelter but are still close to their food source, the ocean. Migratory birds need the pitstop in our mangroves to rest and fatten up quickly feasting on the abundance of molluscs and crustaceans. Without this stop they will not be strong enough to make the long flight north to their nesting grounds in Asia; some even fly as far as Alaska. Currently, we are witnessing a decline in those birds of 10% every year, so we have to do what we can to help them.
Our mangroves are also very crucial to us humans and our survival, especially in these times of climate change: Mangroves bind carbon in the ground beneath them, which means they are doing an important job at counteracting the pollution of the air and the resulting greenhouse effect. In fact, they are the most efficient trees in this discipline. Even more than the rainforest trees which are famous for the job. Cutting down a mangrove does therefore not only destroy an air-purifier like any other plant, but it sets that bound carbon free again, adding immense pollution to the atmosphere.
Mangroves are also important to us in a very direct way, especially us coastal inhabitants. The mangroves and the mudflats and salt marshes they grow in, create floodplains where the water can run off to. That way, the mangroves function as a buffer and flood protection to our houses in case of storms.
Threats to Mangroves
Our mangroves are currently threatened by quite a few causes. The most obvious is losing the habitat to urban expansion. If the habitat is not completely removed, human construction can still influence the mangroves negatively by restricting or altering the water flow to and from the mangroves. Pollution like oil spills or other toxins further take their toll on the delicate ecosystem. Also private people who live by the mangroves or visit them in their free time do damage by cutting the trees, trampling the aerial roots (pneumatophores) or disturbing the sediment.