Unlike coral reefs, which can protect wide swaths of the coast, mangroves protect the immediately adjacent shoreline. Mangroves, which can mitigate the force of both waves and storm surge, shelter about half of the mainland coastline and about 75% of the shoreline of cayes. We estimate that there are between 400 and 420 sq. km of mangrove within 1km of the coastline of Belize (including all cayes).

Where mangroves are present, they contribute between 10–35% of the stability of the shoreline. The value of shoreline protection services provided by mangroves is estimated at US$111–167 million per year.