Picture the perfect tree. In your mind’s eye it is probably as majestic as a mighty oak, as tall as a towering redwood, bursting with fragrant, brightly coloured blossom and weighed down with succulent fruit. Mangroves are none of these things, but in their own inimitable way they are so much more.
Their party piece is turning salt water into fresh water, a natural talent that enables them to thrive in the hostile hinterland between land and sea – an intertidal environment that most trees find too inhospitable. Many mangrove species are able to filter out as much as 90% of the salt found in seawater as it enters their roots. Some are able to excrete salt through glands in their leaves.
And that is just one of the numerous attributes that make mangroves so valuable – indispensable, in fact.