Indonesian mangroves – best hope for slowing climate change: New study


Protecting mangroves is essential for slowing global climate change: New study

Indonesia could slash greenhouse gas emissions by stopping the clearance of mangrove forests for aquaculture, analysis finds


Indonesia’s mangroves store one-third of the world’s coastal carbon stock and must be protected if the country is to slash its emissions and help mitigate global climate change.

These are the findings of a new paper co-authored by scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), just published in Nature Climate Change.

Media are invited to use and re-publish a package of stories, research and multimedia related to CIFOR’s latest findings on the potential of Indonesia’s mangroves for slowing global climate change:

Indonesia has more mangroves than any other country in the world – more than 2.9 million hectares – but one of the fastest rates of mangrove loss.

The study – the first to conduct such in-depth measurements – found that Indonesia’s mangroves store 3.14 billion metric tonnes of carbon. This is equal to one-third of the carbon stored in Earth’s coastal ecosystems, and proof that Indonesia’s mangroves are globally significant carbon sinks.

But the archipelago’s mangrove forests are under threat from aquaculture development. Mangroves are being converted to shrimp ponds for big financial returns.

As a result, Indonesia has lost 40% of its mangroves over the past three decades. Approximately 52,000 hectares are destroyed each year, which results in substantial greenhouse gas emissions.

Mangrove deforestation in Indonesia emits 190 million tonnes of CO2-eq annually, which accounts for 42% of the world’s annual emissions from the destruction of coastal ecosystem services (that is, marshes, mangroves and sea grasses).

That’s the same amount of emissions as if every car in Indonesia drove around the world twice.

“We hope that these numbers help policymakers see mangroves as a huge opportunity for climate change mitigation,” says Daniel Murdiyarso, Principal Scientist at CIFOR and lead author of the paper.

“But to make progress, it is crucial that mangroves are protected and managed sustainably.”

The findings come as the world turns its attention to the UN climate change negotiations in Paris in December.

“Mangroves and peatlands are gaining huge attention now, globally. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has set up guidelines for countries to assess carbon and greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration from these wetland ecosystems,” Murdiyarso said.

“It is time to acknowledge that mangroves must be part of the solution to climate change.”

The paper, “The potential of Indonesian mangrove forests for global climate change mitigation”, is published online here:

The study was conducted by CIFOR and partners from Oregon State University, the USDA Forest Service, University of Washington, Australian National University, the Forestry Research and Development Agency of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, University of Papua, Bogor Agricultural University and Sam Ratulangi University.

All stories, videos and photos related to this study were produced with Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-Share Alike License. Media are welcome to use all content as long as it is attributed correctly to CIFOR.


The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) advances human wellbeing, environmental conservation and equity by conducting research to inform policies and practices that affect forests in developing counties. CIFOR helps ensure that decision-making that affects forests is based on solid science and principles of good governance, and reflects the perspectives of less-developed countries and forest-dependent people. CIFOR is one of 15 members of the CGIAR Consortium.