ARUSHA, Tanzania, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Tanzania's semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar has embarked on a campaign against mangrove destruction along the isles' coastline.
Sheha Mjaja Juma, Director General of the Zanzibar Environment Management Authority (ZEMA), told Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday that the campaign aimed at protecting and replanting mangrove forests.
"Our aim is to save mangrove forests from extinction as the rate at which mangroves are being cut is worrying. In fact, the rate of replacement does not match with what we are losing," the official said, explaining that the dense root systems of mangrove forests trap sediments flowing down rivers and off the land.
"It helps stabilize the coastline and prevents erosion from waves and storms. In areas where mangroves have been cleared, coastal damage from hurricanes and typhoons is much more severe," Juma said.
Apart from protecting coral reefs and seagrass meadows from being smothered in sediment, mangrove forests also produce numerous good and services both to the marine environment and people, according to Juma.
The strategies will include educating people on the need to protect the environment as well as reinforcing the fight against mangrove cutting along the coastline.
He said the campaign is an effort to deter climate change impacts including flooding and erosion as well as rising of sea level.
The official said in recent years, 145 areas that had been used for farming and settlements in the archipelago have disappeared due to rising sea level and erosion.
Most of the affected areas saw destruction of mangroves, which play a key role in damage mitigation during disasters. It is estimated that Zanzibar has a total of 18,000 hectares of mangroves, with different species. Enditem