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By LI HONGYANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-05-04 09:39
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Editor's Note: As protection of the planet's flora, fauna and resources becomes increasingly important, China Daily is publishing a series of stories to illustrate the country's commitment to safeguarding the natural world.

Mangrove areas that provide habitats for water birds and other creatures and protect coastal areas from marine disasters urgently need to be restored, according to experts and officials from the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

Wang Wenqing, a professor at the College of the Environment and Ecology at Xiamen University in Fujian province, said the bark of the main plant species that make up mangroves is rich in tannins, which are the sources of many red dyes. Since most of the species do not have red flowers, mangrove names are associated with their bark and wood.

In Chinese, mangroves are called hongshulin, or "red forest". They grow in coastal areas, and their structural features have developed over a long period to adapt to the environment. They can endure being submerged in seawater and being buffeted by strong winds and waves. Mangrove plants have also developed a range of respiratory roots to overcome the lack of oxygen in intertidal soils. They are mainly distributed on the coasts of the Indian and Western Pacific oceans. The Malay Peninsula is considered to be the richest in the world in terms of mangrove plant biodiversity, while Australia is the second-largest such biodiversity center, Wang said.


In China, mangroves occur in coastal provinces, including Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang, so they attract large numbers of water birds.

For example, Shenzhen Bay, Guangdong, which includes mangrove wetland, provides a home to migratory birds and is a major transit point on the North-South migration route. Tens of thousands of birds rest there en route between East Asia and Australasia every year, according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

China has established a number of protected areas with mangroves as the main object of interest: they include the Dongzhai Port Nature Reserve in Hainan, the Shankou Mangrove Nature Reserve in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, the Zhanjiang Mangrove Nature Reserve in Guangdong and the Zhangjiangkou National Mangrove Nature Reserve in Fujian.

According to the Special Action Plan for Mangrove Protection and Restoration (2020-25), China will build and restore 18,800 hectares of mangrove forests by 2025.

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