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At 9th spot, India fast losing mangrove cover, but at half of world average

An international study says India has been able to conserve its mangrove forests much better than other countries.

india Updated: May 12, 2018 23:04 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
mangrove cover,mangrove forests,Green conservation
The study found that of India’s 4,52,676 hectare of mangrove forests, it lost 3,957 ha, or 0.87%, from 2000 to 2015.(HT/File Photo)

India is ranked ninth in the area of mangrove forests it lost between 2000 and 2015, but the rate of loss is only half the global average, which means India has been able to conserve its mangrove forests much better than other countries, found an international study.

Published earlier this month by the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), a think tank based in Massachusetts, USA, the study looked at satellite maps to find that of India’s 4,52,676 hectare (ha) of mangrove forests (10th largest mangrove cover in the world), the country lost 3,957 ha, or 0.87% of it, over these 15 years. Indian government estimates put the extent of mangrove forests at 4,92,100 ha (100 hectares is equal to one square kilometre). Globally, 1.67% of the mangrove forests was lost over these 15 years.

While Indonesia led with a loss of 1,15,000 ha, Malaysia, Myanmar, Brazil and Thailand were other countries to lose maximum cover during the period of study.

“We found that less than 1% of the Indian mangrove forests were deforested between 2000 and 2015 (4,000 ha). This rate is only half the global average meaning that India has done an excellent job since 2000 protecting remaining mangrove forests,” said Jon Sanderman, the study’s lead author.

He added that mangroves are found in areas of high human population density so there is a lot of pressure to develop land for urban or agricultural uses. “Historic deforestation of the Sundarbans in West Bengal was primarily to take advantage of the fertile soils to grow rice. Mangroves surrounding cities such as Mumbai were lost primarily due to urban growth. Natural disasters led to loss in southern regions.”

First Published: May 12, 2018 23:04 IST