World Mangrove Day: The International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem also known as World Mangrove Day is celebrated annually on 26 July every year.
The day is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems as “a unique, special and vulnerable ecosystem” and to promote solutions for their sustainable management, conservation, and uses.
The day was adopted by the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2015.
It was on this day in 1998, that a Greenpeace activist Hayhow Daniel Nanoto, died of a heart attack during a massive protest to re-establish the mangrove wetlands in Muisne, Ecuador.
- According to UNESCO, mangroves are disappearing at a rate that is three to five times faster than overall losses of global forest cover in the face of infrastructure development, urbanization and agricultural land conversion.
- The global coverage of mangrove forests has reduced by 50% in 40 years.
- In May 2020, when Cyclone Amphan hit Bakkhali in Bengal’s Sundarbans region, it left a trail of destruction reminiscent of the 1999 Super Cyclone that killed thousands in Odisha.
- As per the experts, Amphan’s devastation could have been limited had it not been for the rampant deforestation, human activity, including tourism and finishing, and changes in land use reduced the health and the extent of the Sundarbans mangrove cover.
Note: Sundarbans is home to the world’s largest mangrove cover — a prolific ecosystem between the land and the sea/ocean.
- Sundarbans apart, India is home to several other swathes of mangrove cover, including the Godavari-Krishna Mangroves, Bhitarkanika Mangrove Wetland, Baratang Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Pichavaram Mangrove Forest in Chidambaram.
- During the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Pichavaram Mangrove Forest protected several hamlets in Tamil Nadu, by preventing the seawater from entering the villages and minimizing loss of property.
- Rows of mangroves near the sea reduced the impact of the tsunami by reducing the velocity and volume of the tsunami water.
- The largest mangrove forests between Sundarbans and Bangladesh are being monitored by UNESCO.
Importance of Mangroves:
- Coastal communities all over the world depend on these ecosystems for their wellbeing, protection, and food security.
- They are breeding grounds for several estuarine and marine organisms as well.
- But their biggest contribution towards these coastal communities is to act as a natural barrier against tsunamis, storm surges, a rising sea, and erosion.
Mangroves for the Future (MFF):
- MFF was initiated by International Union for Conservation of Nature and co-chaired by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to restore the mangrove forests.
- The project covers places like India, Srilanka, Indonesia, Maldives, Thailand and Seychelles.