In April 2019, Apple announced that the company is partnering with the Conservation International foundation to protect a vast mangrove forest in Cispatá Bay, Colombia, on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.
What are mangroves? Mangroves are trees or shrubs that grow in the tropics and subtropics, in saline or brackish water. These trees are uniquely adapted to life under rough coastal conditions: They contain intricate salt filtration systems and root systems that can withstand salt water immersion and wave action, and they can survive the low oxygen levels of waterlogged mud. The roots of a mangrove tree rise up and plunge down into the salty waters of the bay, sprawling in every direction, a clear indication that they thrive in saltwater.
Mangrove forests are found in 118 countries and territories in the world. Cispatá Bay is a perfect example of such a forest. There, a series of channels connect the mangrove area to the Sinú River, providing access into and out of the mangroves. In these amazing mangrove ecosystems, mangrove bushes suck carbon out of the atmosphere and store it deep under the waterline, in soil and sediments, for thousands of years. In fact, mangrove forests store up to ten times more carbon per acre than land-based forests. In Cispatá Bay, 27,000 acres of mangrove forest are in a marine-protected area.
Unfortunately, mangrove forests are very vulnerable: too much river water or too little salt water endangers them. There are other factors that threaten their existence, such as farming and agricultural activity, climate change, and logging and fishing performed by unscrupulous people. Since the 1940s, half of the world’s mangrove forests have been destroyed. What happens when this occurs?These degraded coastal ecosystems become a tremendous source of greenhouse gases, and release as much as a billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere annually. Those numbers are equivalent to the total annual emissions from all terrestrial, aquatic, and air vehicles in the U.S.
Protecting, preserving, and conserving the mangrove ecosystem is a collaborative effort, and local authorities, foundations, and teams of marine biologists and environmentalists, are all on the frontlines. Conservation International, Invemar Research Institute, and the Omacha Foundation (working with local government and environmental authorities) are designing a carbon financing model to incentivize conservation and restoration of mangroves.
In September 2018, Apple joined this mission. At the Global Climate Action Summit held in California, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, stressed that mangrove forests are one of nature’s most important tools in the battle against climate change. Apple hopes that Conservation International’s project will improve the method of measuring carbon stocks in the soil component of the mangroves, and will become a model for scaling carbon sequestration in global mangrove ecosystems and curbing emissions caused by deforestation in these areas. The electronic giant is pioneering this new wetland model, which will help mangroves and other coastal ecosystems store carbon.
The roots between us earthlings and the mangroves run deep. The preservation of the mangrove ecosystem is a vital key in saving our global habitat for generations to come.
- Conserving mangroves, a lifeline for the world – Apple
- Mangrove Forests – Wikipedia
- History of Apple – Apple Encyclopedia
The Mangrove Action Project – Mangrove Forest Restoration & Conservation [Video]
Video uploaded by Mangrove Action Project on September 6, 2013