Mangrove forest in the Saloum Delta National Park, Senegal
© mariusz_prusaczyk/Getty Image
Our forgotten forests. Mangrove Conservation Day
Welcome to Senegal’s Saloum Delta National Park, where we are celebrating the UN’s International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem. Mangrove forests survive where no other trees can, in salty, low-oxygen coastal waters exposed to tides and storms. They grow up to 30ft (9m) high and are able to store vast amounts of carbon, helping to moderate our climate. Their interwoven root systems also help to protect coastlines from erosion.
The shallow channels pictured here contain about 200 islands and islets teeming with marine life and birds. Dolphins and caimans swim in the national park’s creeks. Monkeys, warthogs, buffaloes, rhinos and giraffes roam the savanna farther inland. Humans have fished the waters here and cultivated shellfish from giant mounds for as long as 2,500 years. All thanks to the bedrock for these marshes, the sturdy mangrove, which protects the coastline in this Unesco World Heritage Site.