Tropical mangrove forests, which grow in estuaries and intertidal areas between land and sea, help protect coastal areas from erosion and inland areas from high waves, harboring biodiversity and safeguarding coastal livelihoods in the process.

Mangrove forests also sequester large amounts of carbon: “Total carbon storage in mangrove ecosystems is exceptionally high compared with most forest types,” wrote the authors of a 2009 CIFOR paper, Carbon Storage in Mangrove and Peatland Ecosystems. Clearing of mangrove forests, therefore, releases comparatively large amounts of carbon emissions, a key driver of climate change.

To further research in this field, CIFOR has joined the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP), a collaborative effort with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Oregon State University, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). By employing robust scientific approaches and methodologies, SWAMP is generating knowledge relevant to policymakers and practitioners regarding the sustainable management of wetlands in the face of changing global climate. One of the key tools developed under this program is a forest carbon database system (ForestCDB), which supports initiatives such as greenhouse gas inventories, the development of forest reference emission levels, and monitoring, reporting and verification.

More than 100 delegates at a three-day conference, Restoring Coastal Livelihoods, hosted by Mangrove Action Project in Bogor, Indonesia, from 17 to 20 February 2014, debated such topics as the impacts of mangrove conversion, the potential for mangrove restoration, and sustainable livelihood alternatives in degraded areas. They began to develop adaptive models and scenarios, and recommendations for Indonesia’s National Mangrove Strategy.

Discussions at the conference were carried over into the Forests Asia Summit, where the importance of Asia’s mangroves was part of the conversation.

To learn more about the themes of Restoring Coastal Livelihoods, click here. Check back regularly to this page for more information and outcomes from the conference, including blog articles and videos.