Mangroves are plants and shrubs that live on the land but are flooded by sea water for part of each day. Approximately one-fourth of the world's tropical coastline is dominated by mangroves and they extend over 15.5 million ha world-wide.
Mangrove ecosystems contribute to marine and terrestrial biodiversity, coral reef preservation and function as a nursery for reef fish. Mangroves are also important because they help to keep the water clean. Their roots act as filters that take up the pollution in the water. Mangroves also help to protect the shoreline from erosion by storm waves. Though mangrove ecosystems provide a unique and valuable range of resources and services, huge areas of mangrove continue to be lost to agriculture and urbanization.
Of the 19 mangrove ponds on St. Maarten, only four remain today and these are threatened by development pressures and pollution. There are about 54 species of mangrove trees world-wide but at Red Pond, Fresh Pond, Little Bay Pond and Mullet Pond you will find four types of these unique trees.