Article

ManglarIA: Where Tech Meets Nature to Save Mangroves from Climate Change

An exciting development is on the horizon – a story of innovation and collaboration that unites nature and technology to protect mangroves and coastal communities from the impacts of climate change. Crafted by WWF’s dedicated adaptation team and generously supported by Google’s philanthropic arm, ManglarIA is set to revolutionize our approach to conserving mangrove ecosystems. ManglarIA, which means "AI for Mangroves" in Spanish, is more than just a tool – it's a dynamic initiative that embraces advanced technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), to gain a better understanding of how climate change impacts mangrove ecosystems. Mangroves are instrumental in capturing and storing carbon, with the ability to sequester up to four times more organic carbon per hectare than other types of forests. Their conservation is critical to mitigating climate change, as the loss of mangroves results in a disproportionately high release of greenhouse gas emissions, and at the same time, mangroves act as an important adaptation measure through their role in protecting coastal communities against storm surges and sea level rise.
Mangroves in Marismas Nacionales Biosphere Reserve, Nayarit. Credit: Jason Houston, WWF-US
Mangroves in Marismas Nacionales Biosphere Reserve, Nayarit. Credit: Jason Houston, WWF-US

In Mexico, the project team is working tirelessly to protect and restore these crucial ecosystems and their substantial contributions to local livelihoods and economies. The threats they face, from coastal development to shrimp farming, are compounded by the additional challenges posed by climate change, such as more frequent hurricanes, shifting rainfall patterns, and rising sea levels. Nevertheless, our understanding of how mangroves respond to shifting weather and climate patterns remains limited, hindering the development of effective conservation strategies. Critical questions remain: how long does it take for mangroves to recover from tropical storms? Which sites are most suitable for restoration given changing environmental conditions? How does the evolving climate affect mangroves' capacity to store carbon? And how are economic activities that depend on mangroves influenced by these changes? To bridge this gap, we need data – and this is precisely what ManglarIA offers. Over the next three years, WWF and partners, including local communities, research institutions, and government bodies like CONABIO, will deploy a network of sensors, encompassing automated weather stations, CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth) devices, LIDAR-equipped drones, camera traps, and more, in biosphere reserves along Mexico's Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts. This sensor network will provide real-time data, enabling the continuous monitoring of environmental variables crucial to mangrove health, with AI playing a pivotal role in analyzing this data.
ManglarIA inception workshop participants review key climate and ecosystem variables to be monitored for the project. Credit: Rosi Amerena, WWF-Mexico
ManglarIA inception workshop participants review key climate and ecosystem variables to be monitored for the project. Credit: Rosi Amerena, WWF-Mexico

In Mexico, ManglarIA will offer robust data to support the country's climate change mitigation and adaptation commitments under the Paris Agreement. The knowledge gained through this initiative will also be widely shared with academic and conservation communities. This will allow governments to benefit from a model that leverages existing technology to provide actionable climate risk information for protected area management plans. Companies interested in supporting nature-based solutions will also gain confidence that their investments will yield long-lasting climate and community benefits. The vision for ManglarIA is clear: with the knowledge gained, a powerful, replicable model will be available to inform the restoration and management of critical ecosystems worldwide. Perhaps that's why this remarkable project has secured a coveted $5 million grant from Google.Org's Impact Challenge on Climate Innovation, symbolizing the growing trend of enhancing nature-based solutions with state-of-the-art technology. ManglarIA represents a powerful ally in closing our information gap, paving the way for durable nature-based solutions that combat climate change and safeguard lives and livelihoods.
  • Tabitha Kimani

    12 w

    Certainly a great input towards solving the climate crisis.

    1
    • johnte ndeto

      12 w

      Protecting mangrove and coastal communities is quite appealing

      2
      • Princess

        12 w

        Exciting to see innovation driving climate resilience and benefiting both ecosystems and communities.

        2
        • Sarah Chabane

          12 w

          Super interesting project! Mangroves are the unsung heroes of fighting erosion and rising sea levels, they need to be protected at all costs.

          2
          • George Kariuki

            13 w

            Integrating AI and sensor technology into conservation efforts is a game-changer.

            1
            • Abraham Jok Atem

              13 w

              The modern Technology is very powerful an useful in impacting our environment

              5
              • Munene Mugambi

                13 w

                @abraham_jok_atem we all agree that we need to put tech to the right use to protect our environment

                1
              • Adam Wallin

                13 w

                Putting the power of tech to use in the right locations - great!

                7
                • Munene Mugambi

                  13 w

                  @Adam_Wallin And watch it make a difference for us all now mad in the future

                  1
                • dickson mutai

                  13 w

                  Great to witness this fusion of innovation and conservation

                  3
                  • Munene Mugambi

                    13 w

                    @dickson_mutai we're privileged to experience such levels of innovation in our lives and to see their impact in nature

                    2
                  • Rotich Kim

                    13 w

                    This is a good project where our mangrove is save from other climate injustice

                    2
                    • Munene Mugambi

                      13 w

                      @rotich_kim It is a great project and more should be enlisted to follow this marvelous blueprint

                      1
                    • Munene Mugambi

                      13 w

                      Certainly an exciting project and one needed to solve the problem of mangrove forests going extinct while also putting into consideration the needs of coastal people

                      1
                      • Rutt

                        13 w

                        Good to know!

                        2
                        • Bo

                          13 w

                          Cool idea!

                          1
                          Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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