How climate change is hitting livelihoods in Brazil's mangrove forests

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By Louise Miner
How climate change is hitting livelihoods in Brazil's mangrove forests

A fisherman has been telling his story of how climate change is threatening his livelihood in Brazil's coastal areas.

José da Cruz has been fishing for crabs for decades near the South American country's vast mangrove forests. 

The 46-year-old didn't learn to read or write but he knows that the Arctic is thawing and that climate change is a problem.

"Since about 10 years ago, I've noticed a change here on this island, it's the tide because the tide has advanced about three metres more than normal," he said. 

"Before, I was carrying 10 to 12 crab ropes. Today, I bring four to five. The mangrove is suffering and I suffer along with it."

Mangroves represent almost 14,000 square kilometres of the Brazilian coast. 

In the last 100 years, along the bay where José lives, the water level has risen 20 to 30 centimetres.

Intense storms are more frequent as climates shift and the mangroves protect the coast from eroding, according to scientists.

Experts said the mangroves offer vital protection.

"At this time, when we take carbon gas out of the atmosphere to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, mangroves are essential," said Carlos Nobre, a researcher at the University of São Paulo.

"At a time when we need to have a barrier to cushion some of the impact of the severity that comes from the oceans — such as strong waves and storms — mangroves are essential, they provide a very broad ecosystem service and protect the populations that live in these areas.”

A large share of marine environments is at risk of extinction due to climate change and human development, according to a UN report published this year.