Mangrove forests store high densities of carbon across the tropical urban landscape of Singapore

Tropical forested ecosystems provide multiple ecosystem services to rural and urban landscapes, with carbon storage gaining particular attention. Deforestation due to rural-urban transitions may lead to a reduction in carbon storage ability. Coastal mangrove forests are particularly at risk from deforestation due to their location in the rapidly urbanizing coastal zone, and the city state of Singapore is an extreme example, losing as much as 90 % of its original mangrove cover due to land reclamation and reservoir construction. Knowledge of mangrove ecosystem services may allow better conservation, restoration and incorporation of remaining mangrove patches into the urban landscape. Focusing on the regulating ecosystem service of carbon storage, mangrove carbon stocks have been estimated for Singapore using a combination of field and remote sensing techniques. Biomass carbon showed substantial spatial variation, with old, contiguous mangrove patches containing a higher density of biomass carbon than fragmented, river-fringing or restored mangroves. In total, national biomass carbon equated to 116,117.1 megagrams of carbon (Mg C), and a coarse estimate of the total carbon stock (including soil carbon) suggests that Singapore’s mangroves may store 450,571.7 Mg C. While lower than other regional estimates focused on natural, oceanic mangroves, this is a significant carbon stock for a disturbed, urban mangrove system, and may be equivalent to the average annual carbon emissions of 621,000 residents. This analysis, alongside a review of other urban forest studies, highlights the importance of forested ecosystems such as mangroves in providing a carbon storage ecosystem service to urban areas.

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