While mangrove forests are vanishing around the world, the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests is reporting a slight uptick of mangrove forests along the nation’s eastern coast. According to a report, mangroves expanded from 4,581 square kilometers in 2005 to 4,639 square kilometers in 2007, an increase of 58 square kilometers.
A press release states that “the increase in mangrove cover is mainly because of plantations and regeneration measures under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry.” In addition, “state governments and their forest departments in the eastern coast region are taking necessary precautions to avoid encroachments and destruction of the mangrove forests.”
Mangroves are tropical saline-adapted forests, which are becoming increasingly considered one of the world’s most important ecosystems. These forests serve as nurseries for a variety marine fish, underpinning global fisheries and providing additional food for coastal communities. In addition, they store massive amounts of carbon and act as buffers against marine erosion. Recent studies have even found that mangroves buffer human populations and property against tropical storms. During the devastating 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, regions with mangroves suffered less damage than those without. In all it has been estimated that mangroves provide at least $1.6 billion in ecosystem services annually.
Yet despite their importance mangroves are vanishing rapidly due to rising sea levels, deforestation for coastal developments, agriculture and aquaculture. A recent study by the US Geological Survey and NASA found that 137,760 square kilometers of mangroves survive globally. Approximately 20% of the world’s mangroves were lost from 1980.
(08/19/2010) New satellite data shows that human actions are wiping out mangrove forests even faster than previous bleak estimates. Conducted by the US Geological Survey and NASA, the researchers found that mangroves comprise 12.3 percent less area than previously estimated. In total, satellites reveal that mangrove forests cover approximately 53,290 square miles (137,760 square kilometers). “Our assessment shows, for the first time, the exact extent and distribution of mangrove forests of the world at 30 meters spatial resolution, the highest resolution ever,” said Dr Chandra Giri from USGS.
(07/18/2010) A new report by the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) and the Nature Conservancy has found that mangrove forests are being lost at staggering rates worldwide: since 1980 one fifth of the world’s mangroves have been felled.
(03/23/2010) The Jakarta Post reports that, according to the local NGO People’s Coalition for Justice in Fisheries (Kiara), Indonesia’s has lost 2.2 million hectares of mangroves in less than thirty years, going from covering 4.2 million hectares in 1982 to just 2 million hectares today.