Don't Manhandle Your Mangroves!

These ubiquitous, salt-loving shrubs are protected by Florida law, so treat them with the respect they deserve.
The stilt-like roots of the red mangrove allow it to thrive farther from the shoreline than other mangroves. Its roots also trap sediment, soften waves, and provide a great habitat for wildlife.

These days, it is commonly agreed that too many native mangrove stands have been removed from the edges of Florida’s waterways due to decades of development. As a result, shorelines are more vulnerable to tropical storms and our native bird and fish populations are in steep decline.

Mangroves growing in thickets along tropical and sub-tropical shorelines absorb the wave action from open waters, build new land as they slow down and hold onto passing sediment, creating a fabulous habitat for wildlife. In particular, many types of birds inhabit mangrove thickets and some of them are now endangered. Examples include roseate spoonbills, limpkins, white ibis, herons, bitterns, anhingas, osprey, peregrine falcons and bald eagles. Mangroves are also so important for the health of the shorelines that Florida has passed stringent regulations governing their treatment.

The term mangrove describes either a single species or the whole plant community that grows along saline shorelines. These plants are not related taxonomically, but are grouped by their ability to grow at the edge of the sea.

Read the entire article in the September 2008 issue