1,500 Square Miles of Coastal Wetlands Have Vanished in Two Decades, Study Finds - EcoWatchCoastal wetlands are vitally important ecosystems. Th...1,500 Square Miles of Coastal Wetlands Have Vanished in Two Decades, Study Finds - EcoWatch
Coastal wetlands are vitally important ecosystems. They store carbon dioxide, protect seaside communities from storms and provide habitats for marine life.
Yet in the past two decades, Earth has lost 4,000 square kilometers (approximately 1,544 square miles) of tidal flats, tidal marshes and mangroves, a new study published in Science Thursday found. That’s a loss around the size of Mallorca, Spain or Goa, India, Carbon Brief pointed out.
“Wetlands are among the only ecosystems on the planet that are effectively going to sequester carbon in perpetuity – and, unlike freshwater wetlands, they don’t emit methane,” study co-author and University of Cambridge marine scientist Dr. Mark Spalding told Carbon Brief. “They also protect us from storms, can grow vertically to track rising seas and generate vast volumes of fish.”
Despite their importance, however, not much was known about how they were changing or why, study leader and senior lecturer and head of James Cook University’s Global Ecology Lab Dr. Nicholas Murray told The Nature Conservancy.