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Kapilkumar Nivutti Ingle

Each And Every Mangrove Plant Is Important

As in Hindi, ‘Har Ek Dost Zaruri Hota Hai‘ (each and every friend is important), in the same way, each and every mangrove plant is very important, particularly to conserve the mangrove biodiversity in Gujarat state of India. How? Let’s see.

Mangrove ecosystems are salt-tolerant ecosystems that can be observed in intertidal areas of tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. They are important parts of the coastal ecosystems as they provide various ecological services. For example, they serve as habitat, food resource, and shelter for several terrestrial as well as marine animals. They play a role in between terrestrial and marine life and provide the sites for fertilization for a variety of aquatic fauna.

In India, After the state of West Bengal, Gujarat accounts for the second largest mangrove cover in India. However, the entire mangrove cover in Gujarat is concentrated in Kachchh including the Gulf of Kachchh area. Other parts of Gujarat show very small areas under mangrove cover. In the case of Surat district, it is almost 20 sq. km out of the entire 1175 sq. km of Gujarat mangrove cover.

Increasing mangrove cover area is certainly admirable but here one fact cannot be neglected, and that is this entire mangrove cover in Gujarat shows one predominant mangrove species, which is the Avicennia marina. Perhaps, it represents almost 97 % of total mangrove cover. Other mangrove species are reported in a few studies, particularly in the Gulf of Khambhat and South Gujarat but the mangrove cover in that areas is also dominated by A. marina. The Gulf of Khambhat is perhaps known as the home of A. marina. Other species are present but with rare existence. On this background, the importance of each and every mangrove species which is rare in Gujarat, increases and demands to be considered as special and treated with high conservation value. People should be aware of this and mangroves should be protected by people as well as local governments.

Location of mangrove plants (Google Earth-Pro)

In Surat city urban area, we observed two important mangrove species of Sonneratia (moti tawar in Gujarati) and Acanthus (harigoja in Gujarati) genus recently. Sonneratia also known as mangrove apple or sea apple which popularly eaten by humans in a few parts of India. With this, they show various medicinal properties. Their ecological importance is also high because they show perfect flowers containing stamens, and carpels and easily attract various pollinators. However, germination of the seed to new plants is a difficult task and the low germination rate of Sonneratia increases its need for conservation.

Sonneratia flower (Photo credit: Kapilkumar Ingle)

In Surat, under the bridge, riverside nearby seashore, there are a few trees of Sonneratia apetala and Acanthus ilicifolius are present. There are a few tree stumps probably of Sonneratia also present under the bridge, which might be cut by people due to ignorance. Awareness is very important in this regard and need special protection to save the Gujarat mangrove biodiversity. In the neighboring state, Maharashtra, one species of Sonneratia (pandhari chipi in Marathi) is recognized as a state mangrove tree, a symbol of mangrove biodiversity to highlight the importance of mangroves in Maharashtra state.

Acanthus ilicifolius generally known as holly mangrove, or sea holly, (in Sanskrit- harikusa, in Gujarati- harigoja or marandi) has special importance in Indian traditional medicine, according to Ayurveda. Unfortunately, it is also rarely found in Gujarat state and needs special attention on its conservation too.

Acanthus flower (Photo credit: Kapilkumar Ingle)

So how we can save these mangroves?

  1. Provide public awareness about the importance of mangroves particularly diversity in Gujarat.
  2. Provide people other choices if they are so much dependent on these mangrove plants.
  3. Share the idea of saving these mangroves with the public, your friends and family members, etc.
  4. Protection should be provided to these species practically.
  5. Nursery establishment may be possible with the help of local people.
  6. Develop the concept of a ‘coastal city mangrove’ by making these trees a city symbol.

Finally, each and every mangrove species is important because it can increase the mangrove diversity in Gujarat.

 

About the Author
Dr. Kapilkumar is an Indian ecologist with proven expertise and a strong interest in the ecological impacts of bioeconomic plantations, and the sustainability of blue carbon ecosystems (BCEs). With environmental research experience in Japan, Israel, and Hungary, he studied journalism at Pune University, India. Kapilkumar is interested in addressing the challenges relating to climate change by using the fields of journalism and environment together.
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