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MANGROVE GENETIC RESOURCES CONSERVATION CENTRE

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Mangroves

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A Mangrove Genetic Resources Conservation Centre has been developed in the core area of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) in the Godavari estuary with 25 species collected from various places across the country, including the Sundarbans, Bitarkanika in Odisha, and the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary and Coringa in Andhra Pradesh.

About the Conservation Centre

  • A portion of the area (around one acre) has been set aside for the CWS for the centre, which is being funded by the United Nations Development Programme (Global Environmental Finance).
  • The East Godavari River Estuarian Ecosystem Foundation (EGREE) of the State Forest Department has been roped in to help the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) to develop the centre.
  • Free access is provided to academicians and scientists to conduct research on the genetic resources at one place.
  • The conservation centre is a brainchild of M.S. Swaminathan.
  • The centre will become a destination for future research on mangrove genetics.
  • It will also conserve the mangrove species which are dwindling at an alarming rate due to various reasons.
  • According to the research team, the species planted in the centre are expected to be ready for genetic research within three years.

What are Mangroves?

  • They are salt-tolerant vegetation that grows in intertidal regions of rivers and estuaries.
  • A mangrove ecosystem is the interface between terrestrial forests and aquatic marine ecosystems.
  • They are referred to as ‘tidal forests’ and belong to the category of ‘tropical wetland rainforest ecosystem’.
  • Mangroves are trees and shrub species that grow at the interface between land and sea in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, where the plants exist in conditions of salinity, tidal water flow and muddy soil.

Significance of Mangroves

  • The structural complexities of mangrove vegetation create unique environments which provide ecological niches for a wide variety of organisms.
  • They serve as breeding, feeding and nursery grounds for most of the commercial fishes and crustaceans on which thousands of people depend for their livelihood.
  • They give protection to the coastline and minimise disasters due to cyclones and tsunami.
  • Recent studies have shown that mangroves store more carbon dioxide than most other forests.
  • They are intermediate vegetation between land and sea that grow in oxygen deficient waterlogged soils which have Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S).
  • They perform important ecological functions like nutrient cycling, hydrological regime, coastal protection, fish-fauna production, etc.
  • Mangroves act as shock absorbers.
  • They reduce high tides and waves and help prevent soil erosion.
  • They also provide livelihood opportunities to coastal communities.

Need for Conservation

  • Mangroves are being destroyed and facing severe threats due to urbanisation, industrialisation, and discharge of domestic sewage, industrial effluents and pesticides.
  • Saltpans and aquaculture also pose major threat to the mangroves.
  • 40 per cent of mangrove forests in West Coast of India have been converted into farmlands and housing colonies over the last three decades.
  • Due to shrimp farming, about 35,000 ha of mangroves have been lost in India.
[Source: The Hindu, Down to Earth]

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