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Mangroves – The Sentinel of Environment

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

(Dedicated to World Environment Day, 5th June)

Mangroves forest at the Sunderbans, West Bengal

Mangroves – The Sentinel of Environment

Mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline water. It is found worldwide in the tropical or sub-tropical regions mainly between 25 degree N and 25 degree S.

View of Mangrove root system inside saline water

Special features & benefits of Mangroves

· Natural defence system of coastline :- Mangroves grow along the boarder line of landmass and brackish sea water where no other plant survives. River and land sediments is trapped by the root system of mangroves which protect coastline from erosion. This natural filtering process prevents harmful sediment reaching coral reefs and sea grass meadows. It also protect communities at risk from rise in sea-level due to climate change, Tsunami and cyclones. It helps in controlling surge level of tidal waves and protect coastal habitation.

· Effective Carbon sink :- Mangrove forest help in controlling global warming by removing Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing within the plant in greater quantities and for longer period than other forest. These forest held up nearly four times more carbon than other tropical rain-forest. This unique feature of Mangroves make them planet’s best carbon scrubbers.

· Rich in bio-diversity :- Mangroves are salt--tolerant trees which contain a complex salt filtration system and sturdy root system to survive in saline water. They are adapted to the low oxygen conditions of waterlogged mud. Due to this special characteristic mangrove forest is home to a wide varieties of fish, crab & shrimp species, molluscs and sea turtles. They provide natural habitat for nesting, breeding and thriving for birds and aquatic species.

Extent of Mangrove forest in India

Root system of Mangroves , at the Sunderbans

Development of complex root system in brackish water

Roots of Mangroves visible in background during Low-tide , at the Sunderbans

Avifauna at the Sunderbans

In India, Mangrove forest are found mainly in the following areas --

(i) Sunderbans delta (in West Bengal) , (ii) Bartang in Andaman & Nicobar islands, (iii) Kutch, Jamnagar & Bharuch in Gujarat,(iv) Mumbai, Raigarh, Ratnagiri,Sindhudurg & Palghar in Maharastra,(v) Bhaitarkanika in Odisha, (vi) Godavari- Krishna delta in Andhra,(vii) Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu, (viii) Goa, (ix) Kerala.

· Sunderban derives its name from the mangroves or the Sundari trees which are found in abundance. Mangrove forest in the Sunderbans is home to diversified variety of aquatic species such as Star fish, Butter fish, Silver fish, King crabs, Prawns,, water hens, wood sandpipers, sea eagles, Kingfishers, etc . This is also famous for the Royal Bengal tigers. Due to its rich bio-diversity the Sunderbans has been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site in tear 1997.

· Baratang island at Andaman is also famous for its mangrove forest which can be visited while going to Limestone caves.

Mangroves at Baratang island,in Andaman

Lush green Mangrove forest at Baratang island,in Andaman

View of complex root system of Mangroves, at Baratang island, Andaman

Root system of Mangroves in saline sea water at Baratang island, Andaman

Andaman Wood Pigeon

In fact Mangroves are true sentinel of Environment in coastal area and an ecological hotspot. We must save mangroves to save environment and life within.

(Dedicated to World Environment Day, 5th June)

Video of Mangrove forest at the Sunderbans, from boat ride

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