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Since 2012, March 21 is the date chosen by the United Nations General Assembly as International Day of Forests. Every year, the event is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of forests. The theme chosen in 2018 to celebrate the event is «Forests and Sustainable Cities."

Photo: Abidjan Convention

This is an opportunity to recall that mangrove forests are at the heart of the mission of the Abidjan Convention. This fragile ecosystem represents a significant portion of the shorelines of the Abidjan Convention Area, namely the Atlantic coast of West, Central and Southern Africa. The role of mangrove forests is important in many ways. For fish, they are privileged spawning grounds (breeding areas). They are also effective protections for coastal and island habitats as well as curbing or slowing coastal erosion. In terms of economic activity, rice yields in mangrove areas are higher than in continental ecosystems. In addition, while playing the role of a valuable carbon sink in the context of global warming, mangrove forests offer real opportunities for the ecotourism sector.

In Southeastern Nigeria, Cross Rivers State is home to the largest park in the country. Nestled in an ecosystem of mangroves, its capital, Calabar is one of those cities that live in harmony with nature.

However, mangrove forests are under intense pressure from human activity, which poses a real threat to them. Nearly one-third of mangrove forests have disappeared in a quarter of a century in West and Central Africa.Through its additional protocol on the concerted and sustainable management of mangrove ecosystems, the Abidjan Convention has an instrument enabling it to play a leading role in the preservation of mangrove forests. The celebration of the International Day of Forests provides an opportunity for the Abidjan Convention Secretariat to draw attention to the threats to mangroves in Africa and to recall the need to better protect these fragile ecosystems.