There is lots of information out there about what garbage does to the overall mangrove community. But not much information about its affect on the actual mangrove trees!
In order to fully understand the effect of garbage on the mangrove plant, we need to consider something very important. What is garbage? For the sake of this post, garbage is waste or any matter that is no longer wanted or needed and has been disposed of legally or illegally. Because the term garbage is such as limiting one, I will refer to all garbage as waste. And waste can be either liquid, solid or gas. So we will look at three types of waste including;
1. Liquid waste
2. Oil waste
3. Metal waste
So with that in mind, let us look at the specific types of waste and what they do to the mangrove plants.
Liquid waste can originate from households, golf courses, gullies, and sewage treatment plants. The liquid waste can take the form of sewage material, fertilizers, detergents and pesticides to name a few. In many parts of the world this waste is released directly into the water.
When liquid waste comes in contact with mangrove plants, the major concern is over-nutrition. In other words, there is the risk of too much nitrogen and phosphorus entering the mangrove community.
The soil in the mangroves can do a pretty good job of trapping phosphorous but not so with nitrogen. The short term affect of the wastewater is little to no affect on mangrove tree growth, its thickness or structure of the community. However, there are some areas with little to no tidal action. If wastewater is continually flowing in these areas, the long term affect can be detrimental to the plant. High amounts of nutrients can cause disease and death to the mangrove plant.
It only takes one plant species to suffer and the entire composition of the mangrove plant community is rearranged. So for example, if the Black mangrove has suffered damage to its above ground roots, the plant will not be able to carry out respiration and the growth will be retarded, hence making way for a new type of mangrove plant to grow in its place.
Continue reading part 2 of this post where we look at what oil waste does to the mangrove plant.