Mangroves consist of trees, shrubs, and Nypa palm that grow in tropical and subtropical tidal zones—the largest concentration straddling the equator between 5ºN and S—and they have adapted to extremely harsh environmental conditions, thriving in regions of high salinity, scorching temperatures, extreme tides and flourishing in muddy, sediment-laden waters with oxygen-free soils.
- A total of 15.2 million hectares of mangroves are exist worldwide. Mangroves dominate the majority of the world’s tropical and subtropical coastline accounting for 0.7% of the tropical forest area (Giri et al. 2010).
- About one-third of the world’s mangroves are found in Asia (42%), followed by Africa (21%) and North and Central America (15%) (FAO, 2007), Oceania (12%) and South America (11%).
- While the world’s remaining mangrove forests are spread across 118 countries and territories, three-quarters of the mangroves reside in just 15 countries and less than seven percent are protected.
- The world map below shows where mangrove forests are located.
Global distribution of mangroves , largely lying between latitudes 5ºN and 5ºS (Giri et al. 2010)
An international assessment on global mangroves extent confirms that the vast majority of mangroves exist between 30º N and S (with a few exceptions just outside of this range in Japan, Bermuda, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa). Mannrove area decreases with increasing latitude except for Sundarbans—the world’s largest tract of mangroves located in the Ganges delta (20–25º N)— which remarkably has remained undiminished despite the world’s highest population density in its immediate vicinity.
Although World Resource Institute observes a lower loss of mangrove canopy in Sundarbans compared to accelerated deforestation in Asia where mangrove loss rate was the highest of all regions, development and expansion of economic zones right into the forest in Bangladesh is deemed to reverse the situation. As the threat lurks on the fate of the forest, lack of background data is already posing serious problem for the scientific community to make future projection emphasizing on interdisciplinary scientific research.