Nature and Biodiversity

These stunning photographs show how vital mangroves are to the health of the planet

mangrove ecosystem biodiversity keystone species sustainability photography woodland global health environment nature climate change global warming

Mangroves do more for their ecosystems than most other species on the planet. Image: Unsplash/Timothy K

Katharine Rooney
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • The winners of the Mangrove Photography Award 2021 have been announced.
  • The competition attracted entries from 65 countries.
  • The images demonstrate the importance of mangrove forests to communities around the world.

Mangrove forests, with their roots knee-deep in the sea, provide shelter for endangered wildlife, food for coastal communities, and a rich ecosystem with the ability to extract up to five times as much carbon from the atmosphere as forests on land.

Yet mangrove ecosystems around the world are under threat. In some regions, more than 80% have already been lost. Raising awareness of the vital role that mangroves play in both biodiversity and environmental sustainability is more important than ever.

As the winners of the Mangrove Photography Award 2021 show, mangroves are deeply entwined with life on the shoreline, from the Caribbean to the Middle East and from the Philippines to the Florida coast.

The competition is run by the Mangrove Action Project. Now in its seventh year, it has attracted entries from 65 countries. Here are some of its most impressive submissions.

Have you read?

Overall Winner: “A Brave Livelihood” — Musfiqur Rahman, Bangladesh

mangrove ecosystem biodiversity keystone species sustainability photography woodland global health environment nature climate change global warming
Deep in a mangrove forest in Bangladesh, a wild honey gatherer subdues bees with smoke. Image: Mangrove Action Project

Winner of Mangroves & Landscape: “Autumn Tree” — Zohaib Anjun, UAE

mangrove ecosystem biodiversity keystone species sustainability photography woodland global health environment nature climate change global warming
Most of the mangroves found along the United Arab Emirates coastline are in Abu Dhabi, where they act as a green lung for the city. Image: Mangrove Action Project

Winner of Mangroves & Wildlife: “Adaptation of the Bengal Tiger” — Arijit Das, India

mangrove ecosystem biodiversity keystone species sustainability photography woodland global health environment nature climate change global warming
“After four days of tracking the elusive Bengal tiger,” writes the photographer, “we were finally able to predict where this individual might cross a creek. These big cats have adapted to life in the mangroves, and shadow through creeks and channels in search of prey.” Image: Mangrove Action Project

Winner of Mangroves & People: “Mangrove Propagators” — Mark Kevin Badayos, Philippines

mangrove ecosystem biodiversity keystone species sustainability photography woodland global health environment nature climate change global warming
The sun sets on the shore following community mangrove restoration and beach cleaning. Image: Mangrove Action Project

Winner of Mangroves & Underwater: “Shelter” — Shane Gross, Bahamas

mangrove ecosystem biodiversity keystone species sustainability photography woodland global health environment nature climate change global warming
Born on the beach, green turtles grow up in the open ocean, dine on seagrass and seek refuge in mangroves and coral reefs. Image: Mangrove Action Project

Winner of Mangroves & Threats: “Garbage” — Mark Kevin Badayos, Philippines

mangrove ecosystem biodiversity keystone species sustainability photography woodland global health environment nature climate change global warming
“The plastic problem in this part of the world is huge,” says the photographer who captured this image, “ and the mangroves are threatened and slowly suffocating in plastic waste.” Image: Mangrove Action Project

Winner of Mangroves & Youth: “Coastal Phantom” — Caleb Hoover, USA

mangrove ecosystem biodiversity keystone species sustainability photography woodland global health environment nature climate change global warming
The Clapper Rail is an elusive waterbird that has not been seen in this part of Florida for over six years. This one has found shelter in a small stretch of coastal mangroves. Image: Mangrove Action Project

Asides from hosting the photography competition, the Mangrove Action Project is actively engaged in preserving, conserving, and restoring the world’s mangrove forests, including as a Knowledge Partner of the Mangroves Working Group, led by Friends of Ocean Action.

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