Study reveals presence of a fungus affecting mangroves in the Maldives

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated a study into the mangrove die-off observed in certain parts of the Maldives has revealed the presence of a fungus that is weakening the mangroves.

In a press statement released on July 6, EPA revealed a joint study has been launched with the Cochin University of Science And Technology (CUSAT) to determine the cause of the mangrove die-off observed in several islands of the Maldives. As such, EPA said samples of water, soil and plant matter extracted from the affected mangroves and wetlands have been tested in a laboratory.

EPA stated initial findings of the study revealed the amount of nutrients present in the water, soil and plant matter were in the normal, expected range for a tropical country. EPA stated there was also no indication of the presence of heavy metals that could have affected the mangroves. However, EPA said the study has revealed the presence of a fungus that is weakening the mangroves, which could be causing the die-off. However, EPA said this can only be confirmed through larger sample size and further tests, which are to be carried out by a team from CUSAT very soon.

EPA further noted the problem is not unique to the Maldives, adding several mangroves and wetlands in tropical areas around the world are exposed to certain stress conditions which affect their lifespan. EPA stated addressing and resolving such problems take time, noting there is no single solution for the problem. The agency said it will continue to work with the relevant authorities and institutions to address and resolve the problems faced by local mangroves and wetlands.