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Biodiversity & Environment

Sunderbans Damaged in Cyclone Amphan

  • 06 Jun 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Chief Minister of West Bengal highlighted that about 28% of the Sunderbans has been damaged by Cyclone Amphan and launched a drive for planting mangroves and trees to mark the World Environment Day (5th June).

Key Points

  • The Indian Sunderbans, an area south of the Dampier Hodges line, is spread over 9,630 sq km, of which the mangrove forest accounts for 4,263 sq km.
    • 1,200 sq km of that mangrove forest has been destroyed.
    • Mangroves not only reduce wind speed but break the waves during a storm surge caused by a cyclone.
    • Trees turned yellow and red after the cyclone mostly due to salinity and trees can only survive if the salinity of the soil comes down.
    • Dampier Hodges line is an imaginary line, passing through 24 Parganas South and North districts (West Bengal) which indicates the northern-most limits of the estuarine zone affected by tidal fluctuations.
  • The damage has been much on the Indian side of the Sundarbans and not on the Bangladesh side.
  • The CM has directed the Forest Department to be prepared to plant 3.5 crore mangroves by 14th July which is celebrated as the World Forest Day.

Sundarbans

  • It is a vast contiguous mangrove forest ecosystem in the coastal region of Bay of Bengal spread over India and Bangladesh on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers.
  • The site is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests and presents an excellent example of ongoing ecological processes.
  • It constitutes over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area.
  • Indian Sundarbans was recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention in January 2019 and also a Biosphere Reserve in 1989.
  • The area is known for its wide range of fauna, including 260 bird species and is home to many rare and globally threatened wildlife species such as the Estuarine Crocodile, Royal Bengal Tiger, Water Monitor Lizard, Gangetic Dolphin and Olive Ridley Turtles.
  • The Sunderbans Delta is the only mangrove forest in the world inhabited by tigers.
    • For its preservation, Discovery India and World Wide Fund (WWF) India partnered with the Government of West Bengal and local communities in the Sundarbans in 2019.

Mangroves

  • Mangroves are the plant communities occurring in inter-tidal zones along the coasts of tropical and subtropical countries.
  • Mangrove forests perform multiple ecological functions such as production of woody trees, provision of habitat, food and spawning grounds for fin-fish and shellfish, provision of habitat for birds and other valuable fauna; protection of coastlines and accretion of sediment to form new land.
  • Among the states and Union Territories, West Bengal has the highest percentage of area under total Mangrove cover followed by Gujarat and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The India State of Forest Report gives the data about mangroves and their conditions in the country.

Source: TH

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