The continuous loss of forest cover in the Indian Sundarbans has made conservation efforts crucial.
|Facts and Figures about Sundarbans
Man in the Indian Sundarbans
Threats to the Sundarbans
- Growing human population with few alternative livelihood opportunities poses a serious threat to the mangrove forest.
- Encroachment and Reclamation: Conversion of mangrove tracts for aquaculture, agriculture and other non-forestry land use
- Overfishing: The stock of the fish is decreasing continuously due to the overexploitation and impact of climatic change. The density of the fish in shallow waters has reduced tremendously.
- Shrimp Culture: Uncontrolled collection of prawn seedlings has emerged as a major problem. There has been continuous trampling of river or creek banks by fishermen and prawn seed collectors.
- Due to deforestation and illegal poaching the Sundarbans is losing its biodiversity rapidly.
- Land based livelihood activities are getting impacted due to rising sea-levels, salt-water incursion, coastal erosion, and soil fertility loss.
- People are increasingly exploiting the living resources of the ecosystem and this puts a question on the sustainability of the region.
Climate Change and its Impact on Sundarbans
- A recent Jadavpur University study has pointed out that climate change appears to be an emerging threat to the Sundarbans.
1. Unpredictable Rainfall Patterns:
- Rainfall patterns are changing over the Sundarbans.
- Rainfall has decreased during a certain phase of the season, and the pattern of rainfall has changed, making conventional cultivation of crops difficult for farmers.
2. Rising sea level:
- Rising seas are said to have flooded 7,500 ha of mangroves in the Sundarbans (WWF 2007).
- The rise in sea level has deprived the people of their main sources of livelihood – agriculture and fishing.
3.Changes in frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events:
The months of July to October are always the season for storms in Sundarbans; however, the storms have increased in frequency and are more intense.
4. Coastal erosion:
- Another factor which contributes to loss of land in Sundarbans is coastal erosion.
- The constant erosion of embankments built to stop the seas from invading islands is continuously decreasing landmass in Sundarbans
- Many islands, once capable of supporting hundreds of people, at present lie uninhabited due unprecedented coastal erosion.
|Management of the Indian Sundarbans
- Public awareness and active participation of the local community in conservation measures
- Policies to address the pressures created on natural resources by lack of human development:It is vital that local communities are pulled out of poverty, which would also relieve the pressure on natural resources.
- Introduction of endemic plant and tree species that can thrive in changing salinity conditions and can provide co-benefits to local communities
- Promoting ecotourism to raise funds and awareness
- Given its global uniqueness, international climate finance should be channelled to India and Bangladesh for the region’s preservation
“A country grows in history not only because of the heroism of its troops on the field of battle; it grows also when it turns to justice and to right for the conservation of its interests.”
– Aristide Briand