Mangrove Habitats in São Tomé and Príncipe (Gulf of Guinea, Africa): Conservation and Management Status
São Tomé and Príncipe is a small island state located in the Gulf of Guinea (West Equatorial Africa) with fragile mangrove habitats along its coastlines. These habitats are threatened by historical conversion to land for agriculture uses, overharvesting for firewood and charcoal, changing hydrology and coastal erosion; the last impacts increasing their vulnerability to sea-level rise. In the case of São Tomé mangroves, road construction (sometimes very close or even crossing through the habitat itself) is considered as a major factor leading to its transformation.
In this contribution, we identified the major botanical and faunal (vertebrate and invertebrates) species encountered in this unique forest ecosystems. We also described some ecosystem services such as food supply and nursery habitat for diverse fish and invertebrates, with a short mention of its carbon sequestration role.
Most of the mangrove hábitats in São Tomé are located inside the Parque Natural Obô of São Tomé, thus, they are under some degree of protection. In the case of Príncipe Island, there are three main remnants of mangrove forests: Praia Salgada, Praia Caixão and Praia Grande, all of them outside the Parque Natural Obô of Principe.
The potential development of ecotourism activities (such as birdwatching, trails, etc.) similar to those already in place at Malanza mangrove (São Tomé) and the restoration of the remnants of mangrove habitats combined with capacity building actions could support community development and job opportunities, especially for women and young people, with high relevance at local level.
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