Mangroves are ecologically and economically important forests of the tropics. They are highly productive ecosystems with rates of primary production equal to those of tropical humid evergreen forests and coral reefs. Although mangroves occupy only 0.5% of the global coastal area, they contribute 10-15% (24 Tg C y(-1)) to coastal sediment carbon storage and export 10-11% of the particulate terrestrial carbon to the ocean. Their disproportionate contribution to carbon sequestration is now perceived as a means for conservation and restoration and a way to help ameliorate greenhouse gas emissions. Of immediate concern are potential carbon losses to deforestation (90-970 Tg C y(-1)) that are greater than these ecosystems' rates of carbon storage. Large reservoirs of dissolved inorganic carbon in deep soils, pumped via subsurface pathways to adjacent waterways, are a large loss of carbon, at a potential rate up to 40% of annual primary production. Patterns of carbon allocation and rates of carbon flux in mangrove forests are nearly identical to those of other tropical forests.