Delta in Danger - Loss of Forest Cover in Sunderban
Sunderban is a large forest which is situated in the coastal area of Bay of Bengal. It is one among the Natural Wonders of the world due to the presence of Mangroves in this area. The largest Mangrove forest of Sunderban was recognized as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. But the dense and vast forest cover of Sunderban is losing day by day. As per as the recent study, a threat has emerged to these area and there is an urgent need to take necessary steps to prevent it.
Mangrove and its Importance-
A mangrove is a small tree or shrub which grows in brackish water or coastal saline water. The salt tolerant tree which are also known as Halophytes, are adapted to grow in the harsh coastal conditions. They have a complex root system and complex salt filtration system to adjust with the salt water immersion and wave action. They are habituated to the low oxygen conditions of the waterlogged mud.
- Mangrove forest is one of the extremely productive ecosystems which provide several goods and services both to the people and marine environment.
- Large variety of fish, crab, shrimp, and mollusk species are found in this area which are used in commercial purpose apart from being an important source of food of the coastal people.
- The Mangrove woods are very valuable as these are resistant to rots and insects.
- Apart from that, the dense root of Mangrove traps the sediments flowing down with the rivers and protects the coastline from erosion due to waves and storms.
- It also protects the coral reef and sea grass meadows from the sediments. The vast biodiversity of various animals and plants, coral reefs, beaches fetch many tourists to this area.
Problems Faced By the Forest-
The forests are cut randomly to build hotels and tourist lodges and meets the huge demand of forest products. These cause a severe threat to the natural ecosystem of Sunderban. The islands are shrinking as the sediments of rivers, which are added to the landmass of the forest, are trapped by the dams and barrages. The Mangrove trees like Sundari (Sundarban is named after this tree); Garan etc. are cut for woods. This can affect the local economy as well as the animals of Sunderban. Due to loss of forest coverage, the area becomes prone to storms and sea cyclones which cause loss of lives and damage of properties.
Steps Must be taken-
Some parts of Sunderban are legally protected as Sundarban National Park, Bird Sanctuaries and Tiger Reserve. But some more policies must be taken to protect these area. Local authority must prevent the deforestation and promotes ecotourism in this area.The Govt must increase the awareness among the local people regarding the importance of these area.