Mangroves of China: a Brief Review

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Li, MS
Lee, SY
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The distribution, ecology, conservation and management of Chinese mangroves are reviewed. Mangroves naturally occur along the southeast Chinese coast and traverse the provinces of Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian and Taiwan, intermittently extending from 18°N. Thirty-seven mangrove tree species, representing 20 families and 25 genera, have been documented, with thermophilic eurytopic species being the dominant components. A remarkable decrease of species richness is evident from Hainan (18–20°N) to Fujian (23.5–27°N) (35 vs. 9 species). The existing mangrove area is ≈ 17 800 ha, accounting for slightly more than 0.1% of the world's total. Nearly two-thirds of China's mangroves have been lost during the past 40 years, largely due to conversion for rice-farming, embankment for aquaculture ponds and, recently, rapid urban development. A total of 201 papers on Chinese mangroves was published between 1950 and 1995, 178 of which are in Chinese; thus, they are not easily accessible to the international scientific community. Most of the work was conducted after 1985 (91% of the papers published) and research emphasized floristics with little attention to managementrelated issues. The net primary production of the Chinese mangroves shows a latitudinal trend, also significant deviations from predictions on models generated using non-Chinese data. Although 28 Chinese institutions have dealt with mangrove research, only five maintain long-term projects. The bulk of research has been carried out in six mangrove reserves: Qinglan, Dongzhai (Hainan), Mai Po (Hong Kong), Futian (Guangdong), Shankou (Guangxi) and Jiulongjiang (Fujian). Twelve mangrove reserves have been established so far in mainland China, one in Hong Kong (Mai Po) and one in Taiwan (Tanshui). These reserves cover an area of over 19000 ha, of which 8445 ha are mangroves (47% of existing mangrove area). Six measures that can facilitate mangrove conservation and management are recommended: (a) declare more mangrove areas as nature reserves; (b) set up a national mangrove committee and mangrove research centre to foster research and management; (c) develop concrete management guidelines; (d) enact protective legislation and ensure its strict enforcement; (e) launch education programmes in the major mangrove reserves; and (f) stop further nonsustainable exploitation of mangroves and their habitats.

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Forest Ecology and Management

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