Seagrass beds in the Western Indian Ocean region

United Nations Environment Programme ; United Nations Environment Programme Institutional authors (2012-12-03)

Seagrass ecosystems cover wide expanses of the intertidal and subtidal zones of the WIO region. Worldwide the value of these ecosystems has been estimated to be $ 19,400 ha-1 yr. These ecosystems are critical in their support of a valuable fishery which contributes to the livelihoods of coastal communities, and support habitats for a diverse assemblage of plant and animal species. Ecologically, the presence of seagrasses is important as their rhizomes and roots anchor them to the soft sandy substrates characteristic of coastal areas resulting in sediment stabilization, nutrient uptake and protection of the coastlines from strong oceanic currents. Seagrass beds are now also recognized for carbon sequestration whose value of carbon storage capacity is just being understood worldwide.

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