Lecturer, students rediscover ‘near-threatened’ mangrove

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University of PNG’s Dr Lawong Balun and third-year biology students have rediscovered a near-extinct mangrove in Rigo, Central.
The species, Ceriops decandra, found in Hood Lagoon has a restricted distribution in PNG and the rediscovery last month could mean it is potentially the only place where this rare species survives today.
Lecturer Dr Balun, a mangrove specialist, who has done extensive research on the ecophysiology of New Guinea mangroves, said: “It is threatened by habitat loss from coastal development and subsistence harvesting for construction purposes throughout its range.
“Its population is estimated to have been reduced between 10 and 30 per cent over the last two decades and listed as ‘near-threatened’ by Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2007.”
Dr Balun said the biggest concern about the species was the lack of knowledge about its ‘reproductive viable population’ status.
The species grows as a shrub or small tree up to 20 metres tall with a stem girth diameter of up to 30cm.
It has a pale brown outer bark and reddish inner bark, the wood turns yellowish almost instantly when debarked. The species is easily differentiated from its widely distributed close relative Ceriops tagal by having all its fruit erected at 30 to 90 degrees in a vertical direction.
It is the only mangrove species with fruits erected upwards.

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