The threat posed by the development of rice and palm oil plantations to mangroves in South-East Asia has been underestimated, a study has suggested. Rice and oil plantations accounted for 38% of mangrove deforestation between 2000 and 2012, the research showed. The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
As well as being important carbon sinks and rich in biodiversity, mangrove forests provide fuel and food for coastal communities. “Aquaculture has largely been held responsible for causing mangrove deforestation, particularly in countries like Thailand and the Philippines,” explained co-author Daniel Richards from the National University of Singapore.
He told BBC News that a study of eight countries around the world between the 1970s and the early 2000s found that 54% of deforested mangroves were replaced with aquaculture ponds used for fish or shrimp/prawn production.