Mangroves are also called as 'the Lungs of the Coastal Ecosystem'. They play an essential role in sustaining India's coastal regions. These unique ecosystems are not only visually stunning but also incredibly important for the environment and local communities.
Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees and shrubs that thrive in the intertidal zones along coastlines. India has a diverse range of mangrove ecosystems, covering approximately 4,922 square kilometers across its vast coastline. These lush green coastal forests are primarily found in states like West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Each state's mangrove ecosystem adds a unique chapter to the story of India's ecological diversity. An increase of 17 sq Km in mangrove cover has been observed as compared to the previous assessment of 2019. The top three states showing mangrove cover increase are Odisha (8 sq km) followed
by Maharashtra (4 sq km) and Karnataka (3 sq km).
The mangroves of West Bengal, particularly in the Sundarbans region, are among the most famous in India. Here, the iconic Sundarbans Tiger reigns supreme, navigating through the labyrinth of waterways and lush foliage.
Odisha's mangroves are vital not only for their biodiversity but also as nesting grounds for the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles during their mass nesting events. These turtles are a spectacle to behold as they emerge from the sea to lay their eggs on the sandy shores of these mangrove ecosystems.
The mangroves of Andhra Pradesh contribute significantly to the overall ecological health of the region. They serve as nurseries for various fish species, which in turn support local fisheries and livelihoods.
Tamil Nadu's mangroves provide critical habitat for numerous bird species, making them a birdwatcher's paradise. The interplay of water and vegetation creates an ideal environment for these avian inhabitants.
In Kerala, mangroves play a substantial role in coastal protection, buffering against the forces of nature. They are nature's first line of defence against storms and cyclones.
Karnataka's mangroves offer serene vistas where dense canopies meet meandering waterways. This region represents the coexistence of nature and tranquillity.
Goa's mangroves, nestled amid its stunning coastal landscapes, offer a unique opportunity for ecotourism and environmental education. Visitors can witness firsthand the wonders of these ecosystems.
Maharashtra's mangroves contribute significantly to the state's biodiversity. They are integral to the health of coastal ecosystems and the well-being of coastal communities.
Gujarat's mangroves are oases of life on the arid western coast of India. They are essential for the survival of various species, including the formidable Saltwater Crocodile.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with their remote and pristine mangrove forests, are a haven for scientists and researchers. These islands represent a wealth of undiscovered biodiversity.
Mangroves in India State-wise
1. West Bengal : 2,114 sq. km.
2. Gujarat : 1,177 sq. km.
3. Andaman And Nicobar Islands : 616 sq. km.
4. Andhra Pradesh : 405 sq. km.
5. Odisha : 259 sq. km.
6. Maharashtra : 320 sq. km.
7. Tamil Nadu : 45 sq. km.
8. Goa : 27 sq. km.
9. Karnataka : 13 sq. km.
10. Kerala : 9 sq. km.
11. D & NH and Daman & Diu : 3 sq. km
12. Puducherry : 2 sq. km
( Data as per ISFR-2021 Report)
Species of Mangroves found in India
Indian mangroves are home to an array of unique plant species, each contributing to the overall biodiversity of the region. Some of the prominent mangrove species found in India include:
1. Avicennia marina (Grey Mangrove)
The Grey Mangrove has distinctive pencil-like pneumatophores,
It is a resilient species that thrives in the muddy habitats of mangrove forests.
These aerial roots not only provide stability but also aid in oxygen intake, allowing the tree to flourish in the oxygen-deprived mud.
2. Rhizophora mucronata (Red Mangrove)
Recognizable by its stilt-like roots that stand tall above the water's surface
The Red Mangrove plays a significant role in stabilizing coastal soils.
These roots not only offer structural support but also create ideal nursery grounds for numerous marine creatures.
3. Sonneratia apetala (Crabapple Mangrove)
The Crabapple Mangrove earns its name from its unique apple-shaped fruits.
This species has a remarkable tolerance for salinity, making it well-suited for life in the brackish waters of mangrove ecosystems.
4. Excoecaria agallocha (Blind-your-eye Mangrove)
Named for its toxic latex that can cause temporary blindness if it comes in contact with the eyes
The Blind-your-eye Mangrove has developed fascinating adaptations for survival in its harsh environment.
This includes chemical defences against herbivores.
All Species of Mangroves found in India: