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Mangroves in India

Mangroves in India


  • A mangrove is a shrub or a small tree that grows in the coastal saline or brackish water.
  • The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species.
  • The special characteristic of mangroves is their ability to exist in a wide variety of habitats.
  • In the coastal locations, high tide brings saltwater. When the tide recedes, the salinity of the soil increases, because water evaporates and the salt remains.
  • The return of tide flushes out the salts bringing the salinity level to normal.
  • The temperature also changes with high and low tides. Mangroves are seen mainly in the tropical and subtropical coastal regions.

Characteristics of Mangroves

  1. Mangroves thrive in areas receiving high solar radiation and where the silt brought down by rivers is in abundance. Abundant sunlight facilitates photosynthesis by mangroves.
  2. Silt deposits prepare fertile soil for the growth of the mangroves.                                      Mangroves in India
  3. Mangroves exhibit a variety of adjustments to overcome problems faced in saltwater. Some mangroves have the ability to absorb freshwater from saline water.
  4. Others secrete excess salts from their leaves. Salt crystals can be seen on the surface of the leaves.
  5. Mangroves also exhibit a variety of root configuration. Root configuration enables mangroves to exchange gases from the atmosphere without the involvement of soil.
  6. Some mangrove species such as Rhizophora have roots emerging from the trunk of the tree, above the ground level. These roots are called stilt roots.
  7. Other mangrove species such as Avicennia have vertical roots emerging upwards from the soil. These roots are called pneumatophores.
  8. Mangroves exhibit viviparity, i.e., seeds germinate in the tree itself before falling onto the ground.                Mangroves in India
  9. Viviparity refers to the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. Viviparity is an adaptive mechanism to overcome the problem of seed germination in saltwater.

Mangroves in India

  • Indian coastline possesses a large number of mangrove forests. Sundarbans are the largest single block of mangroves in the world.
  • Mangroves of Bhitarkanika, Odisha are the second largest mangrove reserves in India.
  • Other important mangroves in India are:
  1. Krishna-Godavari Delta Mangroves are located in the delta of Godavari and Krishna rivers in Andhra Pradesh.
  2. Pichavaram Mangrove is situated at Pichavaram near Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu.
  3. Baratang Island Mangroves are located at Great Andaman and Nicobar Islands.                      Mangroves in India

Importance of Mangroves

  • Mangroves reduce the water flow and thus prevent soil erosion in the coastal regions.                        Mangroves in India
  • Mangroves are dense forests and their roots are also strong. Thus, mangroves provide protection from the wave action of seas. Mangroves even act as a shelter against Tsunamis.
  • Mangroves provide safe and favourable environment to various species of flora and fauna. Thus, mangroves facilitate biodiversity in the coastal regions.
  • Top five states with maximum mangrove cover are West Bengal, Gujarat, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (State of Forests Report 2015).
  • India possesses nearly 7% of the world’s mangrove forests. Mangroves are considered important because they protect the coastline from the incoming ocean waves (especially, Tsunami) and provide safe shelter to species living in that area.                    Mangroves in India


Environment & Biodiversity

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