Mangrove Conservation
Mangrove Conservation

Aspects of Mangrove Cover

Protection of existing mangrove habitats

Regular patrolling and combing of mangrove habitats is conducted by the mangers and staff of Forest Department to check any unwanted activity such as cutting, grazing, pollution etc. Patrolling is being conducted at notified mangrove forests such as at mangroves of Marine National Park and Sanctuary, Kachchh. However, for the conservation of the mangrove habitats which are not on notified forest lands, such as those of South Gujarat region, local communities are involved in the conservation activities.

Development of mangrove habitats

In addition to the conservation of existing mangrove habitats, new mangrove habitats are being developed at suitable inter tidal areas. Under this activity, two approaches are being made. One is the restoration of degraded mangrove habitats while the second is development of new mangrove habitats at suitable sites.

Restoration /development of degraded mangrove habitats

Mangrove plantation activities are taken up in the open and sparse mangrove habitats. Under this programme gap filling is carried out by raising mangrove plantations in the open areas of mangrove habitats. This is to increase the forest density of the area.

Gujarat Forest Department has developed three models of mangrove plantations the details thereof are as follows:

Direct seed sowing

This technique is used at the sheltered inter tidal areas. This is because the strong tidal currents may wash off the seeds. The matured seeds and propagules are planted in such areas. Before plantations, the land is cleared from algal deposition and other unwanted materials. Subsequently, seeds and propagules are sown. The plantation is not irrigated as they receive tidal inundations through creeks. However, regular weeding is conducted to remove algal deposition.

Raised bed plantations

This model is unique and is used only in Gujarat. It may be mentioned that the tidal amplitude is very high in the state is ranged from 2-10 meters with an average of 4-6 meters. This technique is used in the non-sheltered intertidal areas. Under this model, soil mounds of about one meter diameter and 15-30 cm height are prepared. Subsequently about 80-100 seeds or propagules are sown at each mound. The cluster of seeds/ propagule is able to withstand strong tidal currents. Although only few of the sown seeds/propagules eventually survive, the objective of creating mangrove habitat is fulfilled.

Fishbone channel plantations

This technique is used in such intertidal area which are elevated and, therefore, do not receive regular tidal inundation. However, by improving inundation conditions, these area become suitable for mangrove development. Thus, channels are dug similar to fish bone structure. The canal which opens in sea waters is called main canal and the subsidiary canals, aligned at 45 degree to main canal, are called distribution or feeder canals. The main canal is about 3 meter wide at top while two meter wide at bottom with height of 1.25 meter. However, the feeder canals are 1 meter wide at top and 0.80 meter wide at bottom having a height of 1 meter. The plantations are being raised at upper 1/3rd slope of feeder canal and the area between two feeder canals.

A total of 22245 ha. of Mangrove plantations are raised successfully in the state in last five years (2009 to 2014) as perTable-12.

Development of new mangrove habitats

In order to have a contiguous coastal shelter belt, the entire coastline has been surveyed in order to identify suitable areas where mangrove habitats can be developed. For this, the intertidal areas were surveyed and the suitable areas which can support mangrove habitat were identified and referred to as Potential Areas. A total of 149 potential areas have been identified from the State. Of these, 58 potential areas are present in Kachchh, 20 potential areas in Gulf of Kachchh, two potential areas in Saurashtra and 70 potential areas in South Gujarat regions. These potential areas represent the intertidal region of the State which can be developed as mangrove habitats. It does not include the existing mangrove habitats.

These potential areas have been given unique names in chronological order for easy referencing. Further, these potential areas are further categorized in three zones A, B and C. Zone A represents that part of potential area which receives regular tidal inundations and where mangrove habitats can be developed without any treatment of land. Zone B is that part of potential area which receives inadequate tidal inundation and is presently not suitable for mangrove habitat, however, it can support mangrove habitat after land treatment to increase the tidal inundation. Zone C is that part of a potential area which receives very occasional tidal inundation and cannot support mangrove species, however, mangrove associates can be raised in such areas.

This exercise has been completed for all the four mangrove regions of the State. A total of 3125.07 sq km of potential area has been identified form the State where mangrove habitats can be developed. Region wise as perTable-13 and District wise potential area as perTable-14, is identified for the purpose, as perFigure-8. This potential area is in addition to the existing mangrove forests of the State.

Mangrove habitat development plant for each potential area has been developed. It includes a detailed map of the potential area with the GPS location, approach road, nearby land mark etc. The mangrove habitat development plan suggests plantation model and also recommends species for each potential area. Thus, a treatment plan for each potential area has been prepared.

Monitoring of mangrove habitat development works

Regular monitoring of the mangrove conservation efforts is being conducted. Under this the status of plantation, survival percent of seedling, algae removal is being examined. Evaluation of mangrove plantation work becomes difficult due to the dynamic nature of the mudflats which keeps on changing due to tidal currents. To circumvent this difficulty, a detailed map, with GPS points, approach road/s, landmarks etc has been prepared for every potential area. These maps will be helpful for the evaluation and subsequent monitoring of habitat development work. It is planned to conduct third party evaluation of the implementation of entire mangrove habitat development work.

Capacity building of managers and staff

Capacity building of managers and staff is an integral part of any conservation programme. For this, emphasis is being given to knowledge building and use of latest technology in the conservation programmes. For knowledge building, workshops, seminars and symposiums are being organized. Further, for experience sharing, State level and National level workshops and seminars are being organized regularly and the managers and staff are encouraged to participate in such programmes. Latest and relevant technology is being used for the conservation and protection of mangrove habitat of the State. For this, many necessary items and equipments have been procured while others are under procurement process.

Creating awareness among different sectors of society

Intensive awareness programmes are being organized to sensitize different sectors of the society for conservation of coastal resources. Nature education camps are being conducted for children in which students camp in nature and are educated about the structure and function of mangrove ecosystems. Such camps are largely organized near the Marine National Park and Sanctuary, Jamnagar. Further, target oriented awareness programmes are also conducted in which teachers, judges, lawyers, officials of different government department etc. are sensitized about mangrove ecosystem. Mass awareness programmes are being conducted using print and electronic media. A number of radio programmes have also been conducted on mangroves ecosystem.

Reducing direct dependence on mangroves

Gujarat has very large inter tidal areas due to high tidal amplitude in this region. Therefore, in most of the areas, the human habitations are far away from the mangrove habitats such as in Kachchh, Gulf of Kachchh regions. However, the mangrove habitats of South Gujarat region are in close vicinity to human habitats. These coastal communities depend on mangrove habitats for their firewood and fodder requirement. In order to reduce their dependence on mangrove habitats, efforts are being made to provide alternative and subsidized sources of firewood and fodder. Further, stall feeding is also being promoted in such areas.

Promoting research on mangrove

Research has been given due importance in conservation programme. A number of management driven research have been conducted. Many of them were supported by the State Government. In addition, many research projects have been supported by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India. These research activities have covered the following aspects:

  • Floristic diversity
  • Health of mangrove habitat- status of natural recruitment
  • Substrata and inundation conditions preferred by different mangrove species for their recruitment
  • Reproductive biology- flowering and fruiting seasonFloristic diversity
  • Health of mangrove habitat- status of natural recruitment
  • Substrata and inundation conditions preferred by different mangrove species for their recruitment
  • Reproductive biology- flowering and fruiting season
  • Important mangrove pollinators
  • Potential area mapping for mangrove afforestation and restoration
  • Carbon sequestration potential of different mangrove species
  • Carbon sequestration by mangroves of state
  • Change in mangrove cover
  • Biomass of mangroves of Gujarat
  • Mangrove atlas shown distribution of mangroves and suitable mudflats
  • Dependence of local communities on mangrove habitats
  • Important mangrove pollinators
  • Potential area mapping for mangrove afforestation and restoration
  • Carbon sequestration potential of different mangrove species
  • Carbon sequestration by mangroves of state
  • Change in mangrove cover
  • Biomass of mangroves of Gujarat
  • Mangrove atlas shown distribution of mangroves and suitable mudflats
  • Dependence of local communities on mangrove habitats

Floristic diversity and status of natural recruitment of mangrove species, biomass of mangrove plants, carbon sequestration by mangroves, change in mangrove cover, potential area mapping for mangrove afforestation and restoration have been examined for all the four mangrove habitats. The research findings of these studies have strengthened the mangrove conservation programme of Gujarat.

Important organizations conducting research on different aspects of mangrove ecosystems are Gujarat Ecological Education and Research Foundations, Gandhinagar, Gujarat Info Petro Limited, Gandhinagar, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, Space Application Center, Ahmedabad, Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology, Bhuj, Kachchh University, Bhuj, M. S. University, Vadodara, Surat University, Surat, and North Gujarat University, Patan.

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