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| Last Updated:: 02/08/2017

Two mangroves from Mumbai region on list the 12 unique wetlands in India










The Mangrove Society of India (MSI) has put two of Mumbai region’s mangroves — Airoli and Vikhroli wetlands — among 12 unique mangrove forests in the country. 




Mangrove forests grow in creeks, estuaries, bays and lagoons and in inter-tidal areas – area between the high tide and the low tide. Their ecosystem is believed to have evolved around 114 million years back in tropical and subtropical regions and India has 3% (4,740 sq km) of the world’s mangrove cover. 




The unique mangroves located along India’s 7,516-km coastline are in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The world’s largest mangrove forests in Sunderbans, West Bengal, are also featured in the list. The list was released by the MSI and the Goa state biodiversity board at the National Mangrove Conference in Dona Paula, Goa last week. 




Maharashtra is the only state to have a dedicated cell protecting its mangrove cover.“Mangroves are under threat from developmental projects and we are failing to understand the value of safeguarding the coastline from disasters and their economic value when it comes to tourism. We do not have the concept of preservation in India,” said Arvind Untawale, secretary, MSI. “The idea behind selecting these 12 locations is to enhance conservation and protection of different mangrove species, the biodiversity and establish them as international tourism destinations.” 




He added that tigers in Sunderbans, saltwater crocodiles in Odisha, and birds, fish, crabs, and the unique flora present in this ecosystem are not getting enough attention from the Centre. “There is great potential for adventure, research, information, conservation and management aspects, which the tourism sector needs to focus upon,” said Untawale. 




“What most people are unaware of is that India is home to a maximum number of flora and fauna species in the world,” said Dr K Kathiresan, former dean and director, Annamalai University and from the Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology. 




He added that of the total 4,060 species living in India’s mangroves, 969 are floral species, accounting for 24% of the biodiversity and the rest 3,091 are faunal species. “Mangrove forests can sequester carbon 10 times more than tropical forests and carbon storage is four times more than tropical, temperate or boreal forests (coniferous forests),” said Dr Kathiresan. 




Experts said the tourism potential of mangroves in India, unlike many other countries in the world, is underexplored. “We have to develop such spots for people to realise its importance. Tourism spots will not only help boost revenue but even their protection,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, Maharashtra state mangrove cell.







Source: Hindustan Times