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Mangrove Forests in India, Map, Characteristics, Significance, Threat

Mangrove Forests in India

Mangrove Forests in India: Oceans, freshwater, and land all meet at the mangrove. True mangroves, which are 54–75 species wide and taxonomically separate from their terrestrial cousins, can only be found along coastlines in the intertidal zones. Mangrove forests are among the planet’s most complex ecosystems, thriving in conditions that would quickly eradicate the majority of other plant life.

Mangroves are incredibly flexible to their environment and are capable of rejecting or expelling salt, which allows them to survive in extremely salty seas and soils.

Both the habitat as a whole and the plants that thrive in mangrove forests are referred to by the word “mangrove.” Natural defenses against storm surges, currents, waves, and tides are provided by mangrove forests. You will learn about mangroves in this article, which will help students with environmental preparation for the UPSC.

What are Mangroves?

Along sheltered tropical and subtropical coastlines, mangroves are a type of littoral plant growth. Mangroves are trees and bushes with a remarkable capacity for salt water tolerance that develop beneath the high water levels of spring tides. Around the world, tropical and subtropical intertidal zones contain plant groups called mangroves that can withstand heat and salt.

Such locations are characterized by high temperatures (ranging from 26°C to 35°C) and high rainfall (1,000 to 3,000 mm). Mangrove species, particularly those found in India’s mangrove forests, exhibit a variety of morphological, anatomical, and physiological adaptations that allow them to withstand storms, excessive salinity, and tide surges.

Only in tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator can you find mangrove forests. A variety of roots are produced by mangrove forest trees:

  • Support roots that are submerged in the water.
  • Vertically organized air root that emerge from the mud.
  • Adventitious roots, commonly referred to as stilt roots, sprout from the main stem of the tree..

Mangroves are classified as follows:

  • On the coasts, you can see red plants.
  • Black – One way to identify these mangrove trees is by their dark bark. They are oxygenated more.
  • Compared to Red and Black mangroves, White mangroves have the maximum elevation at which they may grow.

Key habitats for coastal biodiversity include mangroves. Mangroves are used as nidification habitat by a variety of marine animals, including shrimp, crabs, and fish. They are crucial for preventing storm damage and coastal erosion. Mangroves act as natural defences against severe weather events like floods. Many people rely on mangrove ecosystems for a range of biomass-based activities, especially in rural places.

Mangrove Forest Characteristics

In order to restrict sodium salts from entering the rest of the plant, some mangrove plants have extremely impermeable roots that act as an ultra-filtration system, reducing the salt content by 90%-97%. The plant then drops its old leaves, which have a high salt content and do accumulate in the shoot. Some mangroves have salt-storing cell vacuoles.

In order to restrict sodium salts from entering the rest of the plant, some mangrove plants have extremely impermeable roots that act as an ultra-filtration system, reducing the salt content by 90%-97%. The plant then drops its old leaves, which have a high salt content and do accumulate in the shoot. Some mangroves have salt-storing cell vacuoles.

Many mangrove plants also reproduce in ways that are unique to them. As propagules, mangrove seeds that are still attached to the parent plant begin to grow, these seedlings also form roots.

Mangrove Forest Global Distribution

Mangroves are found all across the world, but Southeast Asia has the most species diversity. Tropical and subtropical areas have mangrove forests in tidal areas that are frequently inundated with saline water.

Around 15.2 million hectares (1,52,000 sq km) of tropical coastlines in Africa, Australia, Asia, and America are covered in mangrove forests. While mangrove forests are present in more than 100 countries and territories, they are only found in 15 of those countries, and only 7% of those mangroves are protected.

Asia is home to 42% of the world’s mangroves, followed by Africa (21%), North and Central America (15%), Oceania (12%), and South America (11 percent).

The Sundarbans, the biggest tract of mangroves in the world and located along the Ganges delta, are the exception to the rule that mangrove acreage decreases with increasing latitude.

Mangroves Forests in India

India accounts for roughly 3% of the overall mangrove cover in South Asia, which accounts for 6.8% of the world’s mangrove cover. South East Asia is home to about 40% of the world’s mangroves. India’s Mangrove cover has risen by 54 sq km (1.10%) as compared to the earlier assessment.

According to the most recent data, the country’s mangrove cover is 4,975 sq km [(1.2 million acres)], or 0.15% of its overall geographic area. Only the Sundarbans in west Bengal make up over half of all the territory in India covered by mangroves.

India’s mangrove cover is made up of 42.45% of West Bengal’s land, 23.66% of Gujarat’s, and 12.39% of the A&N Islands. Gujarat displayed a greatest growth in mangrove forest cover of 37 square miles throughout the entire nation.

  • West Bengal (2114 sq km),
  • Gujrat (1140 sq km),
  • A&N Islands (617 sq km),
  • Andhra Pradesh (404 sq km)
  • Maharashtra (304 sq km)

Kerala (9 sq km) and Puducherry (2 sq km) are the states and UTs with the least amount of mangroves, respectively. The Environment Ministry built the National Mangrove Genetic Resource Center in Bhitarkanika (Odisha) for research and development.

Mangroves Forests in India Significance

1. Ecological Stabilization

Mangroves play a crucial role in the tertiary assimilation of waste, serving as a reservoir and helping to construct and preserve the soil. Cyclone protection is offered by them. They significantly contribute to the promotion of land formation, mud bank stabilization, wind energy dissipation, and tidal and wave energy.

2. Mangroves and Tides

The trees can withstand the tides’ daily rise and fall thanks to their complex web of roots. Most mangroves have at least two daily floods.

3. Coastal Stabilization

In order to prevent erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides, mangrove trees stabilise the coastline.

4. Water Purification

By collecting nutrients from runoff that may otherwise result in toxic algal blooms offshore, mangroves enhance the quality of the water. Mangrove trees’ capacity to cleanse the water is essential to the health and clarity of coral reefs and seagrass habitats.

5. Storing Blue Carbon

Less than 2% of maritime ecosystems are mangroves, although they are responsible for 10-15% of carbon burial. The stored carbon is carried to the seafloor by dying leaves and elder trees, where it is buried in the soil. Because it is held underwater in coastal ecosystems including mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and salt marshes, this buried carbon is referred to as “blue carbon.”

6. Supporting Biodiversity

A staggering variety of organisms, including those that are only found in mangrove forests, are supported by the mangrove ecosystem. A variety of animals, including birds, fish, insects, mammals, and plants, can find habitat and safety there.

7. Fishery

The significance of mangroves for coastal fishing communities is highlighted by the necessity of these ecosystems for the reproduction and nesting of fish and shellfish, migratory birds, and sea turtles. Mangrove forests are thought to be directly or indirectly responsible for 80% of the world’s fish catch, according to a 2008 Journal of Sea article.

8. Tsunami Shield

Mangroves are crucial for protecting coastal communities from tragedies like tsunamis and storm surges because they can absorb wave energy. Mangroves have a 70–90% effective absorption rate for typical wave energy. It is clear that mangroves’ extensive root and branch systems could assist mitigate the destructive impact of tsunamis even in the most extreme situations.

Mangroves Forests in India Threats

1. Commercialization of Coastal Areas

These salt-tolerant trees and the ecosystems they sustain are being rapidly replaced by aquaculture, coastal expansion, rice and palm oil production, and industrial activities. In the face of infrastructure development, urbanization, and the conversion of agricultural land, mangroves are disappearing at a rate that is three to five times faster than the entire losses of the global forest cover, according to UNESCO. In the past 40 years, the area covered by mangroves has decreased by half. Mangroves make up less than 1% of tropical forests.

2. Shrimp Farms

At least 35% of the entire decline in mangrove forests can be attributed to the establishment of shrimp farms. Shrimp farming has become more popular as a result of the growing demand for shrimp in recent years in China, Japan, Europe, and the United States.

3. Temperature Related Issues

Some mangrove species can be killed by freezing temperatures for even a few hours, and temperature fluctuations of ten degrees in a short period of time can harm plants.

4. Soil Related Issues

Plants struggle because of the significant oxygen deficiency in the soil where mangroves are established. For most plants, it’s simple to obtain oxygen from soil gases trapped nearby, but mangrove roots cannot do this since they are frequently flooded with water, sometimes twice daily.

5. Excessive Human Intervention

Mangroves have been able to migrate farther inland with previous fluctuations in sea level, but in many locations, human activity has become a barrier that restricts how far a mangrove forest may migrate. Oil spills frequently harm mangroves as well.

Important Mangrove Sites in India

Mangrove Sites State/Union Territories
Sunderbans West Bengal
Mangrove Genetic Resources Centre
East Godavari
Andhra Pradesh
North Andaman
Andaman & Nicobar
Tamil Nadu
Kannur (North Kerala)
Dakshin Kannada/ Hannavar
Mangalore Forest Division
Goa Goa
Dev Garh-Vijay Durg
Gulf of Kutchh
Gulf of Khambhat

Mangrove Forests in India UPSC

  • Sundarban Mangrove Forests are the largest mangroves in the world.
  • Pichavaram Mangrove Forests, located in Tamil Nadu, are the second largest in the world.


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Where is a mangrove forest?

Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand freezing temperatures.

What is mangrove forest in India?

Mangroves are a special type of vegetation. And they are found in the intertidal regions where freshwater and saltwater intermixes, in the bays, estuaries, creeks, and lagoons.

What is special about mangrove forest?

Mangroves are tropical trees that thrive in conditions most timber could never tolerate — salty, coastal waters, and the interminable ebb and flow of the tide.

What are the five features of mangrove forest?

Special characteristics of mangrove forests include adaptation to low levels of oxygen, uptaking nutrients from the atmosphere, limiting salt intake, increasing survival of offspring and limiting water loss.

Why is it called a mangrove?

They can survive in both saline and fresh water and one of the causes of formation of these forests is tide.


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