Mangrove Conservation
Mangrove Conservation

Mangrove Conservation

Mangrove Forests are distributed over nine maritime states and three Union Territories of the country. Among the maritime states, Gujarat has the longest coastline. Further, two out of the three major gulfs of the country are located in Gujarat. Therefore, the coastline of the State provides a suitable habitat for mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass etc. Further, a number of marine animals such as whale shark, dugong and sea turtles are residents or frequent visitors of the Gujarat coast. Large proportion of human population of the State is dependent on these coastal ecosystems for their livelihood. Further, they are very important source of various non-timber forest products for coastal communities such as fodder, fire wood, honey, gum etc. Therefore, conservation and protection of these ecosystems is very important for the sustainable growth and development of the State. In order to conserve and protect these marine ecosystems and their inhabitants, the State Government has taken necessary policy decisions from time to time.

Mangroves are found in intertidal areas of tropical and sub tropical regions of the world. They protect the shoreline against erosion caused by wind and water currents and also mitigate the impact of natural calamities such as cyclones and tsunamis. They are one of the most important carbon sinks in coastal and intertidal regions and are the major producers of intertidal areas. Since mangroves protect the coastline, they are a preferred shelter of fishermen during strong wind and water currents. It is very important to have a developed and healthy mangrove cover for the socio- economic security of coastal areas.

Gujarat hosts the second largest mangrove cover (1103 sq km) of the country (4628 sq km). Mangrove conservation and development has been given very high importance in the State. This has resulted in Gujarat being the only state which has registered an increase of 45 sq km of mangrove cover. (FSI, 2013). In the case of remaining maritime states and Union Territories, their mangrove cover has either decreased or has no change in the same period (FSI, 2013). Hence, the mangrove conservation and protection works of Gujarat has been acclaimed nationally and internationally. It has been possible due to appropriate policies of State Government and their effective implementation. Government of Gujarat has taken a holistic approach to integrate different sectors for effective conservation of mangrove ecosystem.

The mangrove cover of the state is distributed over four regions, Kachchh, Gulf of Kachchh & Saurashtra and South Gujarat (including Gulf of Khambhat- Dumas Ubharat areas). However, the mangrove cover is distributed unevenly over these four regions and Kachchh has the highest mangrove cover (71.5%) of the State. Further, Gulf of Kachchh, Saurashtra and South Gujarat (including areas of Gulf of Khambhat and Dumas -Ubharat) have 15.6%, 0.3% and 12.6% of the total mangrove cover of the State respectively. The distribution of mangroves in the State is at Table-8.

The mangrove forests of the State are represented by 15 mangrove species viz. Avicennia marina, Avicennia officinalis, Avicennia alba, Acanthus ilicifolius, Aegiceras corniculatum, Bruguiera cylindrica, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, Ceriops tagal, Ceriops decandra, Excoecaria agallocha, Kandelia candel, Lumnitzera racemosa, Rhizophora mucronata, Rhizophora apiculata, Sonneratia apetala. Among these 15 species, A. marina is the most dominant species. In fact, it represents about 97% of the total mangrove cover of the State. R. mucronata, C. tagal, A corniculatum A. ilicifolius and S. apetala have localized abundance. Further, among these 15 mangrove species, two species namely, R. apiculata and C. decandra were not reported during the recent floristic survey. However, their occurrence in the State is not being ruled out. Furthermore, three species namely, B. gymnorrhiza, L. racemosa and K. candel are represented by only a single population in South Gujarat. Even though Kachchh has the highest mangrove cover, the highest floristic diversity of mangroves has been reported from South Gujarat region owing to better fresh water inflow. In fact, many mangrove species are found only in South Gujarat region. Floristic diversity of mangrove species of the four mangrove regions of the State is at below.

Avicennia marina
Avicennia alba
Aegiceras corniculatum
Bruguiera cylindrica
Bruguiera gymnorrhiza
Ceriops tagal
Excoecaria agallocha
Avicennia officinalis
Acanthus ilicifolius
Kandelia candel
Lumnitzera racemosa
Rhizophora mucronata
Sonneratia apetala

In addition to mangrove species, more than 100 species of mangrove associates have been reported from the State. The major mangrove associates are Salicornia brachiata, Suaeda maritime, Suaeda fruticosa, Salvadora persica, Thespesia populnea, Sesuvium portulacastrum.

The mangrove cover of the State is distributed over 14 districts as per Table-10. However, this distribution is highly skewed towards a single district i.e. Kachchh. This district has about 71% of the total mangrove cover of the State Figure-6. Other important districts are Jamnagar, Bharuch and Ahmedabad.

The mangrove cover of the State has shown consistent increment during the last decade. In fact, as per the Forest Survey of India (2011), 50% of the total increase in the mangrove cover of the country is contributed by Gujarat alone. Further, as per the latest report of Forest Survey of India (FSI, 2013), Gujarat is the only state which has shown increase in mangrove cover during 2011-12 as perTable-11.

The mangrove conservation in Gujarat is based on the pillars of large scale plantations, protection measures, capacity building of managers and staff, development of new mangrove habitats at suitable areas, nature education, awareness programmes, sensitization of different sectors of community, involvement of community and industries, research based management and ecotourism and effective concurrent monitoring of mangrove plantations,. The mangrove cover of the State is conserved through a comprehensive approach which includes the following aspects:

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