Colombia is leading the way with a pilot program that aims to help communities and countries get paid for conservation efforts. Their ally? An unlikely marine ecosystem.

Mangrove forests, once linked to disease and insect pests, has now emerged as key ally in mitigating the effects of climate change like natural disasters.

Colombian scientist Paula Sierra explains, "It provides a first line of defense along the coast. As you can see all of these roots, it can dissipate a wave. So when you have a mangrove along the coast and you have a strong current, the current hits the roots and the energy of the wave dissolves."

Recent studies are showing mangroves role in climate mitigation goes even further. According to U.S.- based Conservation International, mangroves can store up to 10 times more carbon than land-based forests. They key is keeping them healthy.

CGTN's Michelle Begue reports.

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