The beautiful evergreen thicket hugging the shoreline in southern Florida is made up mostly of mangrove trees. Three species of these hardy, salt-tolerant trees, red, black and white mangroves, grow in Florida. These tough little trees can withstand salt water and storms that kill other trees, but excessive or improper trimming can harm them and weaken our mangrove forests.
Guardians of the coasts
Along with many other shoreline plant species, mangroves provide several ecosystem services. They do their part to prevent erosion. They provide habitat for birds and fish. Mangrove forests create windbreaks that protect from storms. Living mangroves also sequester carbon. During photosynthesis, they use energy from sunlight to capture carbon dioxide in the air, releasing oxygen in the process.
Mangroves under stress
A new publication available on Ask IFAS describes how trimming mangrove trees can affect mangrove forests. Mangroves are beautiful and valuable trees, but they do create dense thickets that can block the water views many landowners and land managers expect from Florida coastal property. Unfortunately, trimming mangroves excessively or incorrectly can stress the trees and leave them vulnerable to damage.
What you can do
UF/IFAS’s School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences’ publication, “The Impacts of Trimming Mangroves” explains both direct and indirect impacts on mangrove forests from various trimming practices. This handy guide provides a quick list of tips for homeowners and land managers to reduce harm to their mangrove stands and keep our coastal forests healthy.