Of There is neither the ground below nor the fallen leaves from any branch. Here neither the sky is visible above the head nor the rays of the sun can cross this dense canopy. Poets and poets have praised a lot to meet in the ocean of the river, but nature has shown its art elsewhere too. If you do not believe, then look at the sight of the meeting of the land and the ocean, not the river. Here breathes a world that has taken care of life like a child hidden in the lap. This is the story of this mangrove forest.
…when danger appeared in Mumbai
year 2020. Location Mumbai, India. Such an area of low pressure formed in the southeast and eastcentral Arabian Sea and started rising Nisarga Tropical Cyclone. The Indian Meteorological Department placed it in the category of severe. Its top speed was maintained at 100-110km/hr and was going up to 120km/hr. This cyclone, which landed on Mumbai, was closely giving testimony to the dangerous climate. According to a report by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, the occurrence of cyclones in the Arabian Sea increased by 52% between 2001 and 2019. It drew attention to the warming sea. Such conditions have started arising in both the atmosphere and ocean that now more cyclones are formed and their intensity is also increasing. According to the UN’s The Ocean Conference factsheet in 2017, 40% of the world’s population, or about 2.4 billion people, live within 100 km of coastline. And the mangrove forests work to protect them from the wrath of the sea.
Why are mangroves so special?
In 2015, at the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO, it was decided to dedicate a day to the conservation of mangrove ecosystems. This day was 26th July. The formula for conservation of mangrove forests and its entire ecosystem has been given in three words unique, special and vulnerable. Based on these, emphasis was placed on finding methods of sustainable management and conservation, but what is it in these forests that makes them unique, special or vulnerable?
Mangroves are one of the most productive and biodiversity-rich ecosystems on earth. They thrive in different depths of salt water. Unlike common plants, their roots are protruding out of the soil. Fish, crustaceans and many other creatures live among the trunks of these trees. These are very special because mangroves can absorb four times more carbon dioxide than other forests. The biggest protection they give in coastal areas against disasters like cyclones and floods. They also prevent salt water from the sea from mixing with other water sources on land and also protect against tidal surges, but today they themselves are under threat as mangrove forests are being lost at a rapid and alarming rate. They are threatened by coastal development at isolated places and most recently due to tourism industry, pollution, use of pesticides and dumping of garbage.
When property worth billions was saved in Florida
Mangrove forests play an important role in improving human life by providing bread, roof and employment. In the coastal areas, they act as a natural protection system. Their solid root system is such a specialty that it acts as a natural barrier in conditions like strong storms and floods. Not only do they protect the people living near the coast from the huge waves of the sea, but they also prevent the pollutants from the land from getting into the clean water of the sea. According to a report by The Nature Conservancy, mangrove forests in Florida, USA, saved millions from the ravages of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and averted property damage of at least $1.5 billion.
giant stores of carbon
Although any forest, it helps to prevent global warming from increasing by using carbon dioxide, but mangrove forests play the role of more effective carbon sink than others here too. They absorb four times more carbon dioxide than other forests. Mangrove trees remain covered with soil under water even after they die. Because of this, carbon does not go into the atmosphere when they decompose. In this way, they play a big responsibility of storing carbon. Communities living near mangrove forests depend on them for everything from construction work to fuel. Their plant extracts are used for medicines and the leaves are used for fodder. These waters have a high production of fish, crabs and shellfish, which also provide employment to the fishing community, but in some places, indiscriminate harvesting for commercial use threatens sustainability.
An understanding of sustainability is very important for the use of any resource. Mangroves are becoming the center of tourism for their beauty and biodiversity, but it is necessary that at the same time respect for their rare and delicate life. Biodiversity is being threatened by human activities. They are home to many species all over the world. Birds live in these forests, migrate and also create safe havens for breeding. There are many such biological materials and antibacterial compounds here, about which a lot of research is yet to be done. Studying the genes of these rare and unique species will also be a big mystery in itself, but with the loss of them in the coastal areas, we are taking the risk of washing our hands of this immense wealth.
Why does the danger persist?
In all states, mega development projects are cleared only after environmental assessment, but mangroves are at risk due to weak institutions, policies, management system, irregular monitoring. These resources are being threatened by the poverty and inequality of the communities that depend on the mangroves. The rate at which mangroves end, other forests are not at the same risk. If this continues, both biodiversity and employment may have to suffer huge losses. Today, one in six species of mangrove trees in the world are in danger of extinction. They are suffering the direct loss of coastal development, so they are not untouched by the effects of climate change.
Where are the mangroves in India?
Royal Bengal Tiger. This name will be enough to identify the Sundarbans mangrove forests in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta of West Bengal. It is the largest mangrove forest area in the world. 180 species of plants and plants live on this UNESCO World Heritage Site. More than one unique and rare creatures are found here. The Sundarbans, home of the Gangetic Dolphins, is the largest Ramsar site in India. In India, the southwest part of this delta covers 60% area and 90% mangrove trees. Not only Bengal, Pichavaram forests of Tamil Nadu, Godavari-Krishna delta forests of Odisha-Tamil Nadu, Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary of Tamil Nadu, Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Bhitarkanika and Mangrove forests of Andaman-Nicobar Islands are rare It is home to aquatic creatures and birds.
The area has increased but the situation is better?
According to the Forest Survey of India’s India State of Forest Report 2019, the mangrove cover in India is spread over an area of 4975 square kilometers, which is 0.15 percent of the total geographical area of the country. Of this, 29.66% is very dense, 29.73% somewhat dense and 40.61% less dense. The total area has increased by 54 square kilometers in the year 2019 as compared to 2017. West Bengal has the highest area under mangrove trees at 42.45%, Gujarat has 23.66% and Andaman and Nicobar have 12.39%. The highest mangrove cover of 37 sq km has increased in Gujarat in 2019 as compared to 2017. However, if you look at the data, you will find that the area of very dense forests has decreased, which is not considered a good sign, even if the area of less dense forests has increased. Therefore, only the increase in mangrove cover cannot be a sigh of relief at the moment.
The whole world is involved in protection
In many places in the world, efforts have been made to improve their conditions with the help of eco-farming and aquaculture inside the mangrove forests. The agreement for wetland conservation was signed in February 1971 in Ramsar city of Iran and today there are 42 Ramsar sites in India. These also include mangrove forests. Their management and restoration are promoted under the IUCN and the UN sustainable development goal. Steps have been taken for this in India also. A separate unit has been prepared for this in Maharashtra and it has been found that their area has increased by 43-64 square kilometers. Local strategies are most important for their successful conservation.
Ground truth shown in NASA study
Based on high-resolution data obtained by the US space agency NASA in collaboration with the US Geological Survey Landsat program, the researchers tried to understand the changes in global mangrove habitat between 2000 and 2016. In the year 2010, 53 thousand square miles of the earth’s coastlines were surrounded by mangroves. Most of these were in Southeast Asia, but these forests were present in tropical and subtropical latitudes all over the world. However, due to factors like agriculture, fisheries, urbanization, more than a quarter of the forest has been lost in 50 years. Most of the damage has been done in Southeast Asia where countries like Indonesia have cut down forests for shrimp and rice cultivation.
man following his footstepsThe team of researchers found that 2% or 1,300 square miles of mangrove forests were lost in this study period. Of this, 62% of the damage was caused by human activities and the rest due to natural causes. Over time, the rate of loss of mangrove forests slowed down, and interestingly, the rate of loss due to the effects of human activities was now decreasing. This is considered a good sign because it indicates the success of conservation efforts, but it also raises the possibility that in many areas, especially in Southeast Asia, there is no forest left, so the rate of change may be less. gives.
Big threat from the end of mangroves
According to a research published in Global Change Biology, due to the end of the mangrove forests, emissions will reach 2391 teragrams of carbon dioxide equivalent by the end of the century. Sunderbans are also included in the areas from which the largest part of it will emerge. In the future, 90% of the emissions will come from these areas. The loss of mangrove forests is visible in the figures and if we keep going in the right direction, then global emissions can be halved.
Those who are far away also know the importance
People have to be explained why mangroves are important. These are very important for everyone, not just the local people or tribes. They can store four times more carbon than other forests. Therefore, it is a great weapon against global warming. Like other environmental issues, it is necessary to spread awareness about how many special and rare plants, animals, birds are there, whose conservation depends on the mangroves. They come here to breed, migrate or live here. There are trees whose roots come up from the bottom or there are rare animals like the white tiger. Similarly, the biodiversity here has special genes which are the basis of such rare creatures. They are yet to be understood. Many such discoveries can be made in the world of mangroves now. That’s why their protection is necessary for everyone, not just for those who live with them.
[Attribution to NBT]