Even as mangroves in Mumbai continue to be destroyed, a different story has panned out in Sindhudurg. A study by the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC) based on satellite images has revealed 3,300 hectares of mangrove in the coastal district as against 2,000 hectares recorded in 2005.
More than 1,070 hectares have been notified as dense mangrove areas, while 349 hectares are sparse, said Dilip M Kolte, senior resources scientist, MRSAC. Around 20 mangrove species have been recorded and 19 species are being raised in nurseries.
“The area in Sindhudurg is conducive for natural regeneration of plants, which could be a major factor determining the increase in mangrove cover,” said Arvind Untawale, retired marine biologist and executive secretary, Mangrove Society of India.
“The marine biodiversity around Sindhudurg should be exposed to the public for education, recreation and most importantly, conservation,” said Untawale.
Mapping the district’s mangrove cover is among the 30 of a four-year-long biodiversity conservation project. The mid-term report was completed last month.
“Through a series of intervention in the fisheries, agriculture and tourism sector, the project has been able to bring about mainstreaming marine biodiversity into these production sectors,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests, state mangrove cell.
The preliminary findings of the report come at a time when the state government’s proposal to promote Sindhudurg as a coastal tourism circuit received the Centre’s approval, and could offer tourists houseboats, floating cottages, glass-bottomed boats and resorts in royal palaces.
HT had reported on May 23 that a pair of blue whales (mother and calf) was spotted 2.7km off the shore from Sindhudurg by the Konkan Cetacean Research (KCR) team that was conducting one of the projects.
“This is a first-of-a-kind study done at this location where we identified 308 individuals of Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins and close to 40 individuals of finless porpoise till the mid-term,” said Ketki Jog, member, KCR.
In addition, more than 200 bird species, five threatened species, two endemic species, 77 wetland dependent species, about 20,000 gulls and 11 nests of white-bellied sea eagles were recorded as part of the bird population study.
27 nesting sites in place
The project titled ‘Mainstreaming Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Conservation into Production Sectors in the Sindhudurg Coast, Maharashtra’ is part of the Government of India – United Nations Development Program – Global Environment Facility and implemented by the state mangrove cell.
As part of the turtle conservation project, mostly of Olive Ridley turtles, along the Sindhudurg coast, close to 13 new nesting sites have been located where hatchlings have been released into the sea. A total of 27 nesting sites are now in place.
* Habitat loss
* Ensnarement in fishing nets
* Denudation of beach fronts because of development activities