Mangrove fauna

The Importance of Mangroves

scientists assessing environmental impact in mangrove wetland

Mangroves are tidal forests (trees and shrubs) that have developed a number of unique and specialised features that allow them to live in the intertidal zone. Living on the edge of the ocean they have developed strategies to cope with high salinity, unstable and waterlogged soils, tides and waves. But mangroves are not only amazing habitats with fascinating plants and wildlife, they are also very important coastal ecosystems.

Mangroves are particularly important ecosystems because they provide numerous ecological services, such as carbon storage and erosion control on unstable coastlines. They also provide valuable habitat for a wide range of marine and terrestrial species. Mangroves teem with life – every square metre of mud can support an abundant variety of organisms and the trees are alive with birds and other animals. Each tide brings with it a host of marine life, ready to feed and shelter within these  rich tidal forests.

Mangroves are also important because of their high primary productivity – they are actually comparable with rainforests in terms of the rich amount of organic material they produce. The leaf litter shed by mangroves breaks down into rich organic matter called detritus, which is the basis of vast food webs (both within the mangroves and the sea beyond).

Not surprisingly, mangroves are habitats for an extraordinary diverse range of wildlife and are considered to be biodiversity ‘hotspots’. For this reason, they are a very important feeding ground for both land and marine species. Many people are increasingly aware of these links – especially that healthy mangroves means healthy fisheries.

Living at the interface of the land and the sea, mangroves also provide a number of important ‘free services’ that are often not recognised, including shoreline protection and stabilisation, stormwater filtration and recycling of nutrients – keeping our harbours clean. Importantly, mangroves are of increasing economic importance due to their extremely high carbon storage capacity. The deep anoxic muds on which mangroves grow can store up to ten times more carbon than terrestrial forests, and for very long periods of time.

Nearly half of Australia’s total mangrove area occurs along the NT coastline and these mangroves have been described as perhaps the most healthy and least impacted in the world. Consequently we are the custodians of a very important national and global resource that should be managed wisely.


Pneumatophores strip photo


Our next Mangrove Walk and Talk is at 9.00am Saturday 14th of October 2023

Children from Marrara Christian School - Mangrove excursion
tour guide preparing for a mangrove walking tour


Discover the magnificent and mysterious mangrove forests of Darwin Harbour. Are you curious to know more about the ecology of mangroves and interested in taking a stroll through the intertidal zone?

Free Community Walks

People of all ages are welcome to join one of our educational walks.

These excursions typically take several hours, usually commencing with a colourful powerpoint presentation on mangrove ecology, featuring the diverse range of animals and explaining the unique adaptations of the mangrove trees. The talk provides a useful introduction for the walking tour as many mangrove animals are shy and rarely seen. It also provides an opportunity to explain the importance of mangroves and to ask questions. The walk is suitable for young and old, is not challenging, and safe. The route is less than 1 km return and winds its way through easily accessible mangroves, traversing several distinct mangrove zones.

Private Walking Tours

Custom mangrove walking tours can also be arranged that are tailored to the interests and/or specific theme for different educational groups, university courses, club excursions and conference field trips.

Previous clients have included the City of Darwin, Charles Darwin University, Top End Native Plant society and the Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network.

Photo Gallery

Walking Tour in Ludmilla Bay


NT News article

Read our NT News article from 29th July 2015 Walk with Experts


NT News article

Read our NT News article called Learn wonders of mangroves

Mangrove talk at manngrove manor

Mangrove talks have been prepared for  the Darwin Visual Arts Association, NT Environment Centre, Seabreeze Festival, NT Writers Association, Top End Native Plant Society and the Territory Wildlife Park.


Please contact EcoScience if you are interested in arranging a scientific talk on mangroves.

Talks and powerpoint presentations can be tailored to meet the needs of your audience. Presentations can be aligned with the focus of a course, educational module, or to resonate with the interests of a particular social gathering or community group.