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Special Content

Issue no 35, 26 November - 02 December 2022

India Joins Mangrove Alliance for Climate



The Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) was launched at the 27th session of Conference of Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, with India as a member. India contributes to nearly half of the total mangrove cover in South Asia and West Bengal, the home to Sundarbans, has the highest percentage of mangrove cover in India. Spread over India and Bangladesh the Sundarbans are also the single largest mangrove forest in the world. Gujarat and Andaman, and Nicobar Islands, Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Kerala too have mangrove forests. Thus, India's membership to the alliance will give a major boost to the protection and recovery of mangroves.


What is MAC?

MAC, announced by the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, is an intergovernmental alliance that seeks to expand and hasten the progress toward the conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems. Led by the UAE and Indonesia, the initiative seeks to scale up and accelerate the conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems for the benefit of communities worldwide. India is among the first five countries to join the MAC, other than Australia, Japan, Spain, and Sri Lanka. The action aims to scale up and accelerate the conservation and restoration of the mangrove forests. As part of the MAC, India's efforts on its natural regeneration and planned plantation activities are expected to increase.


What are Mangroves?:  Mangroves are small trees and shrubs which grow along the coastlines, thrive in salty water and form unique forests on the edge of land and the sea. Mangrove forests are formed by trees that have adapted to live in the warm intertidal areas of the world wherever waters are sufficiently calm and where there are sufficient sediments to set down roots. These diverse forests are found world-wide across the tropics and subtropics, growing in deltas, estuaries, lagoons and sheltered shores in a wide belt around the planet, and are of critical importance to biodiversity and to people. Mangroves never exist in isolation. They are often found interconnected with other tidal wetland systems, as well as with nearby terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats, including coral reefs and seagrass beds. Mangroves essentially form an underwater jungle, generating a vast abundance of aquatic life. The edges of mangrove creeks are safe havens for young fish, providing protection from predation and ample food. Simultaneously they provide rich feeding grounds for predatory fish, which visit the mangrove fringes to prey on those individuals unlucky enough not to have secured a good hiding place. Deeper into the mangroves, the intervening mudflats are home to large numbers of clams and crabs, which burrow in the nutrient rich soft sediments. Mangrove ecosystems are among the most productive and ecologically important ecosystems in the world. They provide significant climate change mitigation and adaptation cobenefits since they are capable of storing carbon up to 400 percent faster than land-based tropical rainforests. They protect coastal regions from rising sea levels, erosion, and storm surges and provide breeding grounds for marine biodiversity. Around 80 per cent of the global fish populationrely on these ecosystems for their survival. Mangrove forests can store ten times more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests. Also, they can store carbon up to 400 percent faster than landbased tropical rainforests.


Conservation and Protection of Mangroves in India : India has mangrove forests along more than 30% of its coastline. Nearly 50% of the country's mangrove forests are in the Sundarbans. This region is home to 58 species of mammals, 55 species of reptiles, and around 248 bird species, along with a human population of 12 million in the greater Sundarbans region. The Government has taken steps to protect, sustain, conserve and augment forests in the country through promotional as well as regulatory measures. The promotional measures are being implemented through a Central Sector Scheme under National Coastal Mission Programme on 'Conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral Reefs'. Under this programme, annual Management Action Plan (MAP) for conservation and management of mangroves are formulated and implemented in all the coastal States and Union Territories. India has adopted three strategies for management of mangrove forests; promotion, regulatory, and participatory. As per the 2021 India State of Forest Report, the states that show gain in mangrove cover are Odisha (8 Sq.km) and Maharashtra (4 Sq.km). Regulatory measures are implemented through Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification (2019) under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; the Indian Forest Act, 1927; the Biological Diversity Act, 2002; and rules under these acts as amended from time to time. As per information provided by the World Wide Fund for Nature, India, citizens of nine States (Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, West Bengal and Karnataka) have been enjoined on mangrove conservation through the 'Magical Mangroves' campaign. Hundreds of volunteers have committed their time towards being educated on mangrove conservation and to inspire more community members to do the same. Volunteers are equipped with a curated toolkit of presentations, videos, story books, and a mangroves app. The Government under Centrally sponsored scheme for Conservation & Management of Mangroves, extends assistance to Coastal State/UTs for implementation of action plans including survey and demarcation, alternation and supplementary livelihood, protection measures and education and awareness activities. The Government has also piloted an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project in Coastal stretches of 3 states namely Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal, with the objective of conservation and protection of coastal resources which included plantation of mangroves as one of the major activities.


Compiled by: Anuja Bhardwajan & Annesha Benerjee Source: PIB/UNFCCC/Vigyan Prasar/Goa Forest Department