[Answered] Highlight the economic and environmental significance of Mangroves. What are the threats facing Mangroves in India?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some economic and environmental significance of Mangroves. Also write some threats faced by Mangroves in India.Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Mangroves are salt-tolerant vegetation that grows in intertidal regions of rivers and estuaries. They are referred to as ‘tidal forests’ and belong to the category of ‘tropical wetland rainforest ecosystem’. India has a total mangrove cover of 4,992 sq km. West Bengal has 42.45% of India’s mangrove cover.

Economic significance:

  • Mangroves are among the most productive terrestrial ecosystems and are a natural, renewable resource. For instance, Sundarbans in the Gangetic delta supports around 30 plant species of mangroves.
  • Mangroves provide ecological niches for a wide variety of organisms. They serve as breeding, feeding and nursery grounds for fisheries and provide timber and wood for fuel.
  • They provide numerous employment opportunities to local communities and augment their livelihoods.

Environmental significance:

  • The mangroves show edge effect, which means that they have large species diversity in comparison to marine or terrestrial ecosystem.
  • Mangrove forests act as water filters and purifiers as well. Hence protecting the coastal ecology including coral reefs. They supply timber, fire wood, medicinal plants and edible plants to local people.
  • Mangroves act as shock absorbers. They reduce high tides and waves and protect shorelines from erosion and also minimise disasters due to cyclones and tsunami.

Threats facing Mangroves in India:

  • Sea level rise and coastal erosion: Due to global warming, the sea levels are continuously rising. The rising sea levels have flooded large areas of mangrove forests. This has resulted in their depletion.
  • Invasion by alien species: This has led to imbalance in ecological structure, resulting in their depletion.
  • Clearing:Large tracts of mangrove forests have been cleared to make room for agricultural land, human settlements, industrial areas, shrimp aquaculture etc.
  • Damming of rivers: Dams built over the river courses reduce the amount of water and sediments reaching mangrove forests, altering their salinity level.
  • Pollution: Mangroves also face severe threats due to fertilisers, pesticides, discharge of domestic sewage and industrial effluents carried down by the river systems.
  • Climate change:Unusually low rainfall and very high sea surface and air temperatures caused severe threats to the survival of mangrove forests.

Systematic and periodic environmental monitoring of existing mangroves is need of the hour. Community participation for conservation and management should be promoted.

Print Friendly and PDF