Mangroves are a group of trees and shrubs that live in the coastal intertidal zone. There are about 80 different species of mangrove trees. All of these trees grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow fine sediments to accumulate. Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand freezing temperatures.
Mangrove forests can be recognized by their dense tangle of prop roots that make the trees appear to be standing on stilts above the water. This tangle of roots allows the trees to handle the rise and fall of tides, which means that most mangroves get flooded at least twice per day. The roots also slow the movement of tidal waters, causing sediments to settle out of the water and build up the muddy bottom.
Mangrove forests stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides. The root systems are also attractive to fishes and other organisms seeking food and shelter from predators.
Mangroves protect shorelines from damaging storm and hurricane winds, waves, and floods. Mangroves also help prevent erosion by stabilizing sediments with their tangled root systems. They maintain water quality and clarity, filtering pollutants and trapping sediments originating from land.
Presently we have several mangrove plots across St. Vincent Grenadines including Brighton, Blue Lagoon, Canash, Cumberland and Richmond beaches, Great Head Bay and Union Island. The next article will focus on the various species of mangroves and their individual benefits to the environment.