Discuss the various anthropogenic reasons due to which Sunderbans is losing its mangroves. Why is conservation of Indian Sunderbans vital? (250 words )

Discuss the various anthropogenic reasons due to which Sunderbans is losing its mangroves. Why is conservation of Indian Sunderbans vital? (250 words )

Approach:

  • Introduce with sunderbans and its importance.
  • Discuss the various reasons which are leading to its depletion.
  • Discuss why it is necessary to conserve them and some govt initiatives regarding that.
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

The Sunderbans is a cluster of low lying islands in the Bay of Bengal, spread across India and Bangladesh famous for its unique mangrove forests. It is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world with great biodiversity of both flora and fauna. A study conducted by School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, reveals that from 1986 to 2012, Indian Sunderbans has lost 5.5% of its total area.

Reasons for its depletion

  • Anthropogenic Causes:
    • Over exploitation of forest to meet the growing requirement and illegal removal of Sundri trees for timber and pulp.
    • Commercialisation of Golpata tree in order to produce oil and alcohol for human consumption.
    • The rapidly expanding shrimp farming industry is deteriorating the mangrove forests in the Sunderbans.
    • Industrial development, agriculture, and aquaculture has led to huge amount of garbage, waste water, pollutants and other effluents discharged into the wetland making it vulnerable.
    • Oil pollution due to spillages has become a serious threat in the Sunderban and is damaging aquatic fauna and seabirds.
  • Natural Causes:
    • Natural disasters, climate change and sea level rise has increased the salinity of water and hence the freshwater loving species of mangroves are replaced by salt water loving ones.
  • Other causes:
    • Artificial Plantation is being done for aesthetic purposes, especially at the tourist spots. These plants are competitive and pose a threat to the mangrove.

Mangrove conservation is vital because

  • They are the breeding and nursery grounds for more than 35 species of reptiles, 270 species of birds, and 42 species of mammals.
  • They are home to around 400 tigers, which is largest in the world.
  • They are a good source of timber, fuel and fodder to coastal communities.
  • They provide coastal protection against wave and wind erosion as well as moderate the impact of storms and cyclones.

Way forward:

Anthropogenic exploitation of resources in Sunderbans can be mitigated by strengthening them with endemic plant and tree species that can thrive in changing salinity conditions and can provide co-benefits to local communities, and providing sustainable alternatives to forest based livelihoods. Government of India has also taken up many initiatives such as TEEB, Mangroves for the Future etc. to save the mangroves.

Subjects : Ecology and Environment

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