Mangrove Forest

Mangroves are plant communities that can withstand salt and can be found in tropical and subtropical intertidal areas of the world. These regions are characterized by high temperatures (between 26°C and 35°C) and significant rainfall (between 1,000 and 3,000 mm). In order to survive in soggy soils, high salinity, storms, and tide surges, mangrove forest species, including those in mangrove forests in India, have a wide range of adaptations in their morphology, anatomy, and physiology.
In tropical and subtropical regions, mangroves are coastal trees. They stand out because they can survive in saline water and have air roots called pneumatophores that allow them to breathe even in high water.
Mangrove forests provide a number of benefits, including acting as a natural barrier against storms and floods, protecting coastal habitats, and providing a nursery for marine life.

Mangrove Forest Geographical Location

Due to their inability to withstand cold temperatures, mangroves are only found in close proximity to sheltered coasts in tropical or subtropical latitudes.
They have the amazing ability to thrive in salty soil near the beach.
The name “mangrove” is a combination of the English word “grove,” which describes trees and plants that grow in shallow, sandy, or muddy environments, and the Portuguese word “mangue,” which means “tree.” The prop roots of mangroves grow from the trunk and extend into the water. These stilt roots both absorb nutrients from the water and act as anchors in muddy substrates. For many maritime animals, including shrimp, crabs, and fish, mangroves serve as essential nascent habitats. They are essential in reducing storm damage and controlling coastal erosion.

Mangroves are important places for coastal bio-diversity to hide. They also act as bio-shields to protect against extreme weather events like floods. Mangrove ecosystems are used by a lot of people, mostly in rural areas, for a wide range of biomass-based jobs.

Mangrove Forest Geographical Location

Importance of Mangroves

  • Ecologically mangroves maintain and help in building the soil. They act as a reservoir in the tertiary assimilation of waste, like the East Kolkatta Wetlands.
  • Mangroves provide protection against cyclones, dissipation of winds, and tidal and wave energy.
  • Mangroves Promote land accretion and fixation of mud banks. 
  • Mangroves protect the coastline by effectively minimising erosion caused by storm surges, currents, waves, and tides.
  • Mangroves enhance water quality by collecting nutrients from runoff that might otherwise contribute to toxic algal blooms offshore.
  • Mangroves make up less than 2% of marine ecosystems, however, they are responsible for 10-15% of carbon sequestration. As the leaves and older trees die, they fall to the seabed, taking the carbon with them to be buried in the soil. This carbon is referred described as “blue carbon” because it is stored in coastal ecosystems such as mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and salt marshes.
  • Coral reefs and sea grasses depend on the water-purifying capacity of mangrove forests to maintain clean, healthy water.
  • Mangroves are homes and safe places for many different kinds of animals, including birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals, and plants.

Mangrove Forest Cover Worldwide

As per Global Forest Resource Assessment, 2020 (FRA 2020), the world over, 113 countries have Mangrove forests covering an estimated 14.79 million hectares.

  • The total mangrove cover in the globe is 1,500,000 square kilometers.
  • Asia contains the greatest amount of mangroves in the world.
  • South Asia accounts for 8% of the global mangrove cover.
  • India contributes 8% of South Asia’s total mangrove cover.
mangroves distribution zones around the world
mangroves distribution zones around the world

The largest Mangrove Forest area is reported in

Asia5.55 million hectares
Africa3.24 million hectares
North and Central America2.57 million hectares
South America2.13 million hectares
Oceania1.30 million hectares

Mangrove Forest Area

More than 40 percent of the total area of Mangroves was reported to be in just four countries:

Indonesia19 percent of the total
Brazil9 percent
Nigeria7 percent
Mexico6 percent

Types of mangrove Forests in india

Mangroves offer habitats for a diverse range of species. According to the Champion and Seth Classification, the mangrove forests in India are classified as Type Group-4 Littoral & Swamp Forests and are sub-classified as.

  • Littoral forest,
  • Mangrove scrub,
  • Mangrove forest,
  • Saltwater mixed forest (Heritiera)
  • Brackish water mixed forest (Heritiera)

Important species of mangrove forest in india include

  • Avicennia officinalis,
  • Rhizophora mucronata,
  • Sonneratia alba,
  • Avicennia alba,
  • Bruguiera cylindrica,
  • Heritiera littoralis,
  • Phoenix paludosa,
  • Morinda citrifolia.
Mangrove Forest

Spread of Mangrove forest in India

The South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal exclusively accounts for 41.74 % of the mangrove forest in India.
In satellite photos, mangroves have a distinct tone and texture. The government of India has classified the mangrove forest in India as

  • Very Dense (canopy density of 70% and above).
  • Moderately Dense (canopy density of 40% and more but less than 70%).
  • Open categories (canopy density of 10% and more but less than 40%).

Mangrove forests in India

According to the government’s current estimation for 2021, the Mangrove forest in India is 4,992 square kilometers or 0.15 percent of the country’s overall geographical area.

  • Very Dense Mangrove – 1,475 sq km (29.55 %)
  • Moderately Dense Mangrove – 1,481 sq km (29.67 %) 
  • Open Mangroves – 2,036 sq km (40.78 %). 
  • The Sundarbans: In West Bengal is the world’s biggest mangrove forest zone. It is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Tigers, dolphins, and crocodiles inhabit the forests.
  • Bhitarkanika Mangroves: The second biggest mangrove forest in India, generated by the two river deltas of the Brahmani and Baitarani, is located in Odisha. It is one of India’s most important Ramsar wetlands.
  • Godavari-Krishna Mangroves, Andhra Pradesh: From Odisha to Tamil Nadu, the Godavari-Krishna mangroves stretch.
  • There are mangrove forests in the Ganges, Mahanadi, Krishna, Godavari, and Cauvery river deltas.
  • Kerala‘s backwaters are densely populated with mangrove forests.
  • Pichavaram, in Tamil Nadu, contains a wide area of mangrove-covered water. It is home to several kinds of aquatic birds.

Mangrove forest in India has increased by 17 square kilometers since the last evaluation in 2019.
Odisha (8 sq km) and Maharashtra (4 sq km) have seen considerable increases in mangrove coverage.
The reason for the growth in Mangrove cover in Odisha is mostly due to natural regeneration and plantation efforts on suitable terrain such as river banks along the estuary and intertidal mud flats linked with locations that are inundated by seawater on a daily cycle. Mangrove forest cover has increased in the State of Odisha in the districts of Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, and Balasore.

The rise in Mangrove cover in Maharashtra is primarily due to natural regeneration. The rise has also been noted in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas area.

Mangroves forest sites in India



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