This article has been updated


Mangrove soils represent a large sink for otherwise rapidly recycled carbon (C). However, widespread deforestation threatens the preservation of this important C stock. It is therefore imperative that global patterns in mangrove soil C stocks and their susceptibility to remineralization are understood. Here, we present patterns in mangrove soil C stocks across hemispheres, latitudes, countries and mangrove community compositions, and estimate potential annual CO2 emissions for countries where mangroves occur. Global potential CO2 emissions from soils as a result of mangrove loss were estimated to be 7.0 Tg CO2e yr−1. Countries with the highest potential CO2 emissions from soils are Indonesia (3,410 Gg CO2e yr−1) and Malaysia (1,288 Gg CO2e yr−1). The patterns described serve as a baseline by which countries can assess their mangrove soil C stocks and potential emissions from mangrove deforestation.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Change history

  • 27 November 2017

    In the version of this Article originally published, the potential carbon loss from soils as a result of mangrove deforestation was incorrectly given as '2.0–75 Tg C yr−1; this should have read '2–8 Tg C yr−1;'. The corresponding emissions were incorrectly given as '~7.3–275 Tg of CO2e'; this should have read '~7–29 Tg of CO2e'. The corresponding percentage equivalent of these emissions compared with those from global terrestrial deforestation was incorrectly given as '0.2–6%'; this should have read '0.6–2.4%'. These errors have now been corrected in all versions of the Article.


  1. 1.

    & Creation of high spatiotemporal resolution global database of continuous mangrove forest cover for the 21st century: a big-data fusion approach. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 25, 729–738 (2016).

  2. 2.

    et al. Mangroves among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics. Nat. Geosci. 4, 293–297 (2011).

  3. 3.

    , & Carbon sinks in mangroves and their implications to carbon budget of tropical coastal ecosystems. Wat. Air Soil Pollut. 64, 265–288 (1992).

  4. 4.

    et al. Mangrove production and carbon sinks: a revision of global budget estimates. Glob. Biogeochem. Cycles 22, GB2013 (2008).

  5. 5.

    et al. A blueprint for blue carbon: toward an improved understanding of the role of vegetated coastal habitats in sequestering CO2. Front. Ecol. Environ. 9, 552–560 (2011).

  6. 6.

    Carbon sequestration in mangrove forests. Carbon Manage. 3, 313–322 (2012).

  7. 7.

    , , , & The role of coastal plant communities for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Nat. Clim. Change 3, 961–968 (2013).

  8. 8.

    & A global predictive model of carbon in mangrove soils. Environ. Res. Lett. 9, 104013 (2014).

  9. 9.

    , & Global economic potential for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from mangrove loss. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 109, 14369–14374 (2012).

  10. 10.

    et al. The potential of Indonesian mangrove forests for global climate change mitigation. Nat. Clim. Change 5, 8–11 (2015).

  11. 11.

    Present state and future of the world’s mangrove forests. Environ. Conserv. 29, 331–349 (2002).

  12. 12.

    et al. The vulnerability of Indo-Pacific mangrove forests to sea-level rise. Nature 526, 559–563 (2015).

  13. 13.

    et al. Status and distribution of mangrove forests of the world using earth observation satellite data. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 20, 154–159 (2011).

  14. 14.

    et al. Estimating global ‘blue carbon’ emissions from conversion and degradation of vegetated coastal ecosystems. PLoS ONE 7, e43542 (2012).

  15. 15.

    et al. Seagrass ecosystems as a globally significant carbon stock. Nat. Geosci. 5, 505–509 (2012).

  16. 16.

    IPCC Climate Change 2007: The Physical Sciences Basis (eds Solomon, S. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007).

  17. 17.

    et al. Country-Level Mangrove Soil Carbon Stocks and Losses Dataset. (Pangaea, 2017).

  18. 18.

    , , , & Predicting global patterns in mangrove forest biomass. Conserv. Lett. 7, 233–240 (2014).

  19. 19.

    et al. Mangrove biodiversity and ecosystem function. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. Lett. 7, 3–14 (1998).

  20. 20.

    , & Community based mangrove management: a review on status and sustainability. J. Environ. Manage. 107, 84–95 (2012).

  21. 21.

    & Degradation and conservation of Brazilian mangroves, status and perspectives. Ocean Coast. Manage. 125, 38–46 (2016).

  22. 22.

    et al. Are global mangrove carbon stocks driven by rainfall? J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci. 10, 2600–2609 (2016).

  23. 23.

    & Variability in mangrove change estimates and implications for the assessment of ecosystem service provision. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 23, 715–725 (2014).

  24. 24.

    et al. Carbon stocks of tropical coastal wetlands within the karstic landscape of the Mexican Caribbean. PLoS ONE 8, e56569 (2013).

  25. 25.

    et al. CO2 emissions from forest loss. Nat. Geosci. 2, 737–738 (2009).

  26. 26.

    , & CO2 efflux from cleared mangrove peat. PLoS ONE 6, e21279 (2011).

  27. 27.

    et al. Carbon stocks of mangroves and losses arising from their conversion to cattle pastures in the Pantanos de Centla, Mexico. Wetl. Ecol. Manage. 24, 203–216 (2016).

  28. 28.

    , , & Carbon stocks of intact mangroves and carbon emissions arising from their conversion in the Dominican Republic. Ecol. Appl. 24, 518–527 (2014).

  29. 29.

    et al. Mangroves among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics. Nat. Geosci. 4, 293–297 (2011).

  30. 30.

    & CO2 efflux from shrimp ponds in Indonesia. PLoS ONE 8, 6–9 (2013).

  31. 31.

    et al. Baseline map of carbon emissions from deforestation in tropical regions. Science 336, 1573–1576 (2012).

  32. 32.

    et al. Patterns and emerging trends in global ocean health. PLoS ONE 10, e0117863 (2015).

  33. 33.

    Ilman, M., Dargusch, P., Dart, P. & Onrizal. A historical analysis of the drivers of loss and degradation of Indonesia’s mangroves. Land Use Policy 54, 448–459 (2016).

  34. 34.

    & Coastal aquaculture, mangrove deforestation and blue carbon emissions: is REDD + a solution? Mar. Policy 66, 58–66 (2016).

  35. 35.

    , & Mangrove forests: one of the world’s threatened major tropical environments. Bioscience 51, 807–815 (2001).

  36. 36.

    Fish to 2030: Prospects for Fisheries and Aquaculture. Discussion paper no. 3 (World Bank, 2013);

  37. 37.

    Socio-institutional dynamics and the political ecology of mangrove forest conservation in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Glob. Environ. Change 12, 203–217 (2002).

  38. 38.

    & Rates and drivers of mangrove deforestation in Southeast Asia, 2000–2012. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 113, 344–349 (2016).

  39. 39.

    & Protocols for the measurement, monitoring, and reporting of structure, biomass and carbon stocks in mangrove forests. CIFOR Work. Pap. 86. Cent. Int. For. Res. Bogor, Indones.

  40. 40.

    , & CHAPTER 4: Coastal Wetlands. 2013 Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Wetlands (2013);

  41. 41.

    , & Ecosystem carbon stocks of mangrove forests along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Honduras. Wetl. Ecol. Manage. 24, 187–201 (2016).

Download references


Support was provided by the CSIRO Coastal Carbon Biogeochemistry Cluster. We also acknowledge the support of The Oceans Institute of the University of Western Australia, the Global Change Institute of The University of Queensland, and the Australian Research Council (Awards DE130101084, DE170101524, LP160100242, LE140100083 and DP150103286) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) through the baseline fund to C.M.D. We would like to thank P. Terletzky-Gese for assistance with GIS.

Author information


  1. Department of Watershed Sciences and Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322-5210, USA

    • Trisha B. Atwood
    •  & Catherine E. Lovelock
  2. Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4067, Australia

    • Trisha B. Atwood
  3. Australian Rivers Institute—Coast and Estuaries, School of Environment, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland 4222, Australia

    • Rod M. Connolly
  4. Biology Department, University of Dammam (UOD), Dammam 31441-1982, Saudi Arabia

    • Hanan Almahasheer
  5. Deakin University, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Center for Integrative Ecology, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia

    • Paul E. Carnell
    • , Carolyn J. Ewers Lewis
    •  & Peter I. Macreadie
  6. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Red Sea Research Center (RSRC), Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia

    • Carlos M. Duarte
  7. AZTI—Marine Research, Herrera Kaia, Portualdea z/g-20110 Pasaia (Gipuzkoa), Spain

    • Xabier Irigoien
  8. Ikerbasque, Basque Foundation for Science, 48013 Bilbao, Spain

    • Xabier Irigoien
  9. Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales 2109, Australia

    • Jeffrey J. Kelleway
  10. School of Science & Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, Western Australia 6027, Australia

    • Paul S. Lavery
    •  & Oscar Serrano
  11. Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes—CSIC, 17300 Blanes, Spain

    • Paul S. Lavery
  12. UWA Oceans Institute, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia

    • Oscar Serrano
  13. National Marine Science Centre, School of Environment, Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales 2450, Australia

    • Christian J. Sanders
    •  & Isaac Santos
  14. CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Ecosciences Precinct, Dutton Park, Queensland 4102, Australia

    • Andrew D. L. Steven
  15. School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia

    • Catherine E. Lovelock


  1. Search for Trisha B. Atwood in:

  2. Search for Rod M. Connolly in:

  3. Search for Hanan Almahasheer in:

  4. Search for Paul E. Carnell in:

  5. Search for Carlos M. Duarte in:

  6. Search for Carolyn J. Ewers Lewis in:

  7. Search for Xabier Irigoien in:

  8. Search for Jeffrey J. Kelleway in:

  9. Search for Paul S. Lavery in:

  10. Search for Peter I. Macreadie in:

  11. Search for Oscar Serrano in:

  12. Search for Christian J. Sanders in:

  13. Search for Isaac Santos in:

  14. Search for Andrew D. L. Steven in:

  15. Search for Catherine E. Lovelock in:


T.B.A., R.M.C., and C.E.L. designed the study. T.B.A., C.E.L., H.A., P.E.C., C.M.D., C.J.E.L., X.I., J.J.K., P.S.L., P.I.M., O.S., C.J.S., I.S. and A.D.L.S. contributed data. T.B.A. analysed the data and drafted the first version of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the writing and editing of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Trisha B. Atwood.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Information

About this article

Publication history





Further reading