Less than 1% of India’s mangrove cover deforested in 15 years: Global study | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Less than 1% of India’s mangrove cover deforested in 15 years: Global study

Says US sudy; India also among top 10 countries with most mangrove area lost

mumbai Updated: May 13, 2018 01:02 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mangrove cover over the Mumbai region.
Mangrove cover over the Mumbai region.(WOODS HOLE RESEARCH CENTER, EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY)

India has the 10th largest mangrove cover in the world and according to a recent study, less than one percent of it was deforested between 2000 and 2015.

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

Published earlier this month by USA-based think tank Woods Hole Research Centre (WHRC), the study analysed satellite maps and found that of the 4,52,676 hectares of mangrove forests in India, only 0.87% or 3,957 hectares were lost over 15 years. Globally, 1.67% of the world’s mangrove cover was lost.

Although India is in the ninth place globally for maximum mangrove area lost between 2000 and 2015, it has been able to conserve its mangrove forests better than other countries on the list. Indonesia is in the top spot, with a loss of 1.15 lakh hectares, followed by Malaysia, Myanmar, Brazil, and Thailand (see box).

Sanderman said there is usually pressure to develop mangroves for urban or agricultural uses because mangroves tend to occur in locations with high human population density. “Mangroves surrounding large cities such as Mumbai have been lost primarily due to urban growth. Natural disasters such as tsunami led to mangrove loss in southern regions such as Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Puducherry. In other regions, conversion of mangrove areas into aquaculture farms or for fuel wood harvesting are the primary drivers of forest loss,” said Sanderman.

According to the central government, the current mangrove cover in India amounts to 4,92,100 hectares.

Sanderman emphasised the need to conserve mangroves because they help mitigate climate change and are critical nursery habitats for fish, birds and marine mammals. Mangroves also act as buffers from storms for coastal communities and even benefit them economically. “It is estimated that the mangrove ecosystem service benefits are at an average of $4,200 US per hectare per year in Southeast Asia,” said Sanderman.