Mangroves in India
The word “Mangrove” is considered to be a combination of the Portuguese word “Mangue” and the English word “grove”.
- Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants of tropical and subtropical intertidal regions of the world.
- The specific regions where these plants occur are termed as ‘mangrove ecosystem’. These are highly productive but extremely sensitive and fragile. Besides mangroves, the ecosystem also harbours other plant and animal species.
In India, mangroves occur on the West Coast, on the East Coast and on Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- The distribution of mangrove ecosystem on Indian coastlines indicates that the “Sundarban mangroves” occupy very large area followed by Andaman-Nicobar Islands and Gulf of Kachch in Gujarat. Rest of the mangrove ecosystems is comparatively smaller.
- Increasing human population in coastal areas is resulting in increased pressure on mangrove ecosystems in many countries, with the growing demand for timber, fuelwood, fodder and other non-wood forest products (NWFPs)
- Anthropological pressures and natural calamities are the enemies of the ecosystem. Growing industrial areas along the coastlines and discharge of domestic and industrial sewage are polluting these areas.
India has a long tradition of mangrove forest management. The Sundarbans mangroves, located in the Bay of Bengal (partly in India and partly in Bangladesh), were the first mangroves in the world to be put under scientific management.
- The East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem (EGREE) encompassing the Godavari mangroves (321 km2) is the second largest area of mangroves along the east coast of India (after Sundarbans).
- The area is rich in floral and faunal diversity, and generates significant ecological and economic benefits such as shoreline protection, sustaining livelihoods and carbon sink services.
- There are 35 species of mangroves, of which 16 are true mangroves and the rest are associates of mangrove species. This includes one nearly threatened (IUCN) species (Ceriops decandra) and three rare species.
- There are important nesting sites for migratory turtle species, notably the endangered Olive Ridley turtle, the critically endangered Leatherback turtle and Green turtle.
- The area serves as spawning grounds and as a sanctuary for the growth and development of numerous fin and shell fish. It is an Important Bird Area with a recorded population of 119 bird species, of which 50 are migratory.
- In recognition of its national and global biodiversity significance, a part of the EGREE area is gazetted as Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (CWLS).