Miami’s rare mangrove forests keeping the city afloat

By Ana Mengotti

Miami, Aug 9 (EFE) – The few mangroves left in Miami, a city at risk of floods due to rising sea levels, are being taken care of for their properties that could save the city from going under water.

The trees have become a precious resource that act as barriers against hurricanes and shelters for animals in the endangered keys of Miami.

The first weekend of each month, dozens of volunteers come to Virginia Key, an islet in Biscayne Bay, to clean the mangroves of plastic pollutants and objects that get trapped in the entangled vegetation, which acts as a natural sieve.

“Mangroves are the most natural systems that exist to filter the waters,” Irela Bagué, responsible for Biscayne Bay, told Efe.

Along with other volunteers, Bagué worked for hours knee-deep in water and under the sun to remove 262 pounds of trash from the North Point mangrove on Virginia Key last weekend.

Mangroves are not only the habitat of animal species, but also act as a natural barrier against storms and hurricanes as well as absorb carbon dioxide, which is at the root of climate change and rising sea levels.

South Florida is one of the areas of the world most threatened by rising sea waters. Over the 20th century, the level rose about 15 centimeters, according to the United Nations.

According to Bagué, the best protection for those who live by the sea could be to grow a mangrove swamp instead of a seawall.

When the iconic Miami residences on the edge of the bay were built, the mangroves were derooted as they blocked the view and prevented direct access to the sea.

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