Mangrove trees like these absorb and dissipate much of the energy of the storm surge from a hurricane or typhoon. The Philippines has lost as much as 70% of its mangrove stands, but residents credit those remaining on islands near the town of General MacArthur with protecting them from the storm surge of Supertyphoon Haiyan.


Ulises Rodriguez/Reuters


Super Typhoon Haiyan's powerful winds did a lot of damage in the town of General MacArthur, but the town largely avoided the storm's killer storm surge. Locals thank their buffer of mangrove stands on islands between the town and the Pacific Ocean.


Michael Holtz

mangrove map

The first high-resolution, satellite-based, global map of mangrove forests was created in 2010 by scientists from the US Geological Survey (USGS). The UN environment program estimates that 35 percent of the world's mangrove ecosystems disappeared between 1980 and 2000.


Chandra Giri/USGS

mangroves 2

The Philippines has lost as much as 70 percent of its coastal mangrove forests, which not only help protect against storm damage but also are important habitat for fish and other animals. A native on the Philippine island of Palawan looks for grubs in the roots of mangrove trees.


Ceratocentron/Wikimedia Commons

Bali mangroves

These mangroves stand in West Bali National Park, Indonesia. After many decades in which mangrove stands around the world were torn up and replaced by aquaculture, resorts and other kinds of development, many communities around the world are trying to protect and rebuild mangrove stands.


Ronrad/Wikimedia Commons

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