Mangrove forests are a highly underrated habitat. Often seen as messy, smelly, muddy overgrowths that need to be cleared and replaced with cement boardwalks and beach resorts, many do not realise what these forests do to protect humans.
Studies have shown that areas behind undisturbed mangroves suffered less damage than those with damaged or cleared mangroves in the 2004 tsunami. Mangrove roots trap rubbish from land, preventing them from adding to the marine debris problem we face at sea, and they also prevent coastline erosion.
Mangroves are home to a wide range of wildlife, some of which are endangered and endemic, such as the Mangrove Pitta in the Pulai River and the Estuarine crocodile in many parts of Johor. They are also a source of food such as snails and bivalves for fishermen, kampung folk and the Orang Asli.
Mangroves are magical simply because they are the link between land and sea; they are plants that can filter out and survive in saltwater and have many unique physical features and medicinal properties. Mangrove seeds that fall into the water can float for 1-2 years before finding a nook to settle in and begin sprouting. It is always best to let mangrove forests remain where they are to grow and multiply naturally to protect our shores; tree-planting activities are known to have less than 20% chance of survival and success.
Kelab Alami conducts mangrove tours along the Tebrau Strait, refer to kelabalami.weebly.com for more information.