Prawn farms turn mangrove forests into deserts
Mangrove forests shelter an unbelievable variety of life forms. Lots of fish, shellfish and other animals mate and breed there. The prawn farms turn them into an infertile and toxic shrimp cocktail. When the mangroves are cut down, the coast becomes unstable, erosion results damaging coral reefs and seagrass beds. This in turn results in the desertification of the natural environment for molluscs and even sea cows. The reduction of the mangroves is a global problem. In Southeast Asia this is due mainly to the enormous increase in the number of areas for fish or shrimp farms- a lucrative trade, for which the mangrove forests sometimes have to pay the price. Logging also plays a role as well as big development projects for expanding agricultural or urban areas.
Without additional measures half of the coral reefs will disappear in the next forty years, warned the International Organisation for the Protection of Nature. It is currently estimated that 20% of the coral reefs have already been destroyed.
Mangroves are flood forests along tropical coasts. Each day the trees are partially covered with seawater while rivers deposit large quantities of mud among them. There are few sorts of trees that can survive this. They have adapted breathing openings in their trunks and roots or salt glands on their leaves. Characteristic features are the crooked prop roots of the Rhizophora trees and the pointed breathing roots of the Avicennia that form a sort of bed of nails in the mud.