Mangroves are shrubs or small trees that grow in coastal saline or brackish water. The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species.
The reasons why we must work towards conserving and planting more mangroves are given below:
Mangrove forests are home to a large variety of fish, crab, shrimp, and mollusk species. These fisheries form an essential source of food for thousands of coastal communities around the world. The forests also serve as nurseries for many fish species, including coral reef fish. A study on the Mesoamerican reef, for example, showed that there are as many as 25 times more fish of some species on reefs close to mangrove areas than in areas where mangroves have been cut down. This makes mangrove forests vitally important to coral reef and commercial fisheries as well.
2. Coastal protection
The dense root systems of mangrove forests trap sediments flowing down rivers and off the land. This helps stabilizes the coastline and prevents erosion from waves and storms. In areas where mangroves have been cleared, coastal damage from hurricanes and typhoons is much more severe. By filtering out sediments, the forests also protect coral reefs and seagrass meadows from being smothered in sediment.
Given the diversity of life inhabiting mangrove systems, and their proximity in many cases to other tourist attractions such as coral reefs and sandy beaches, it is perhaps surprising that only a few countries have started to tap into the tourism potential of their mangrove forests. Places as diverse as Bonaire and offer snorkelling expeditions in and around mangroves to witness a marvellous variety of baby fish, jellyfish, and urchins against a magical background of interwoven roots delving deep into the sandy substrate. Great potential exists elsewhere for revenue generation in this manner, which values the mangroves intact and as they stand.
4. Protection from Global Warming
Mangroves are now looked after by scientists as saviors in the today’s scenario of global warming. We all know that most of the coastal areas throughout the world are going to be affected by sea level rise due to global warming. The effects of which are already visible. Therefore, when most of the coastal areas will be flooded, mangroves can possibly provide a gene bank for cultivating salt tolerant species of crops which could be our future resource.
Fact:The villages of Pichavaram and Muthupet in the southern state of Tamil Nadu were protected by mangroves and suffered less damage than villages without this natural barrier.
Vanashakti’s Mangrove related activities:
Vanashakti has been observing World Wetlands Day since 2011.
In 2012, organized nature walks and cleanup of wastes from mangroves along with Mangrove Society of India (Maharashtra Chapter), Maharashtra Nature Park and various local bodies.
In 2015, Vanashakti organized an event titled ‘Rural and Urban Wetlands: Partners in Co-existence’ in association with Maharashtra State Forest Department’s Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit (Mangrove Cell).
In 2016, Vanashakti participated in an event titled ‘Life in Wetlands’ organized by Maharashtra State Forest Department’s Mangrove Cell with a street play Saha Astitva (which means co-existence in Sanskrit on the interdependence of coastal and inland wetlands. Vanashakti also conducts research on Mangroves through “photo documentation, regular visits and archive databases”