The world’s only large mangrove forest spread from India to Bangladesh i.e. Sundarbans is the home of 72 lakh people (45 lakh in India and 27 lakh in Bangladesh). About half of the population living here lives below the poverty line. Farmers, fishermen and laborers are more in number among these people. Its total area is 10200 square kilometers. There are a total of 102 islands in the Sundarbans region. Of these, 54 have a population. The region is known internationally for its unique biodiversity and ecological importance. Mangroves are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. This tidal forest serves as a nursery ground for many organisms, protects against coastal erosion, sequesters carbon and provides livelihood to millions of people. Apart from this, it serves as a shelter for animals.
world Heritage Sites
The Sundarbans were declared a protected forest in the year 1875 before the partition of India and UNESCO recognized the parts of the Sundarbans spread over India and Bangladesh as a World Heritage Site in 1987 and 1997 respectively. This area was also recognized in the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Despite this identity, Sundarbans is facing serious threat of climate change. The archipelago, famous for its tigers and tropical mangrove forests that grow in marshlands, is facing the brunt of rising sea levels.
Rising water level, sinking Sundarbans
According to the Fifth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the average rate of sea level rise worldwide during the past century has been 1.8 mm per year. But the rate of sea level rise in this area is much higher than the average. In the Bay of Bengal, it is growing twice as fast as the global average. Islands are disappearing with rising sea levels and increasing salinity in water and soil. In the year 2015, the total area of Sunderbans decreased by 210 square kilometers from the year 1967. It is clear from the satellite data collected by the Indian Space Research Organisation- ISRO that 9,900 hectares of land has been covered in water during the last decade in the Sundarbans region. Due to the effects of climate change, the water level of the sea here is continuously increasing and due to this the residential area of the people is decreasing.
Terming mangrove forests as the world’s ‘most productive ecosystem’, India on Tuesday joined the Mangrove Alliance for Climate at the 27th summit of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Done. The Mangrove Coalition- MAC is an intergovernmental coalition striving to make rapid progress towards the conservation of mangrove ecosystems. India is one of the first five countries to join the MAC – Australia, Japan, Spain and Sri Lanka. MAC aims to raise global awareness of the role of mangrove forests in combating the challenges of climate change. The alliance is supported by the UAE, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, Spain and Sri Lanka.
world bank report
The World Bank’s report titled Building Resilience for Sustainable Development of the Sundarbans – Strategy states that there could be about three to eight millimeters of sea level rise every year and this could lead to land subsidence. Various natural and human processes can be responsible for this. Ghoramara Island (part of the Sagar block in the Sundarbans) will be completely submerged in the coming decades. The two surrounding islands were completely submerged at high tide.
Mangroves are spread throughout the tropical and sub-tropical region of the world and are found in 123 countries. Mangroves are one of the richest forests in terms of carbon. They account for 3 percent of the sequestered carbon in the world’s tropical forests. Mangroves are the economic basis of many tropical coastal regions. To sustain a blue economy, or marine life-based economy, it is imperative to ensure the sustainability of mangroves at the local, regional and international levels for coastal habitats, especially tropical countries. The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupendra Yadav, while speaking on the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, said that mangroves can absorb four to five times more carbon emissions than tropical forests and can help create new carbon sinks. Huh.
need to take concrete steps
World Bank senior advisor Sanjay Gupta said the situation in the Sundarbans is alarming. Immediate and concrete steps need to be taken to deal with this. Gupta mentioned that there are frequent floods due to land subsidence and inundation, which is increasing the salinity in the soil and water.
Dr. Seema Javed (Environmentalist, Climate Change and Communication Expert on Clean Energy)