I didn't know anything about mangroves until I came to Thailand. I was invited by a friend to help out planting mangroves in Phang Nga where I learnt so much about about them I now feel compelled to educate others on why they are so important.
Mangroves are small trees that grow in tidal coastline tropical swamps. They are essential to a places eco-systems and they're breeding grounds for fish. Mangroves are a keystone to coastal ecosystems. Mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs are often found together and work in a symbiotic relationship. The trees trap sediment and pollutants preventing them from flowing out to sea. Seagrass beds provide barrier from silt and mud that would otherwise smother the reefs. Then the reefs protect the seagrass beds and mangroves from powerful ocean waves. Without mangroves, this incredibly productive ecosystem would collapse.
Rapid economic expansion in Thailand has resulted in widespread loss of coastal habitat. This has prompted the government to introduce a conservation and restoration policy for mangroves. This is why groups of people arrange to plant mangroves. My group planted 4000 mangroves along with help from a local community in Phang Nga.
Mangrove from above and below sea level. Public Domain image.