• The Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) scheme envisage to comprehensively explore the possible area for development of Mangroves covering approximately 540 Sq. Kms. spreading across 11 States and 2 Union Territories.
  • The MISHTI scheme facilitates mangrove plantation along India’s coastline and on salt pan lands.
  • The MISHTI scheme provides financial assistance to states and local communities for mangrove plantation and rehabilitation.
  • Through “convergence between MGNREGS, Campa Fund and other sources, the scheme aims at intensive afforestation of coastal mangrove forests.
  • The scheme promotes the use of sustainable mangrove management practices.
  • The scheme supports research on mangrove ecology and conservation.

What are Mangroves?

  • Mangroves are a type of coastal wetland ecosystem characterized by salt-tolerant trees and shrubs.
  • They are found in tropical and subtropical regions, predominantly along sheltered coastlines, estuaries, lagoons, and deltas.
  • Mangrove forests play a crucial role in maintaining the health of coastal ecosystems and providing numerous ecological benefits.
  • Mangroves are trees and bushes growing below the high water level of spring tides which exhibits remarkable capacity for salt water tolerance. ( As per Food and Agriculture Organization).

Current State of Mangroves

  • South Asia houses some of the most extensive areas of mangroves globally, while Indonesia hosts one-fifth of the overall amount.
  • India holds around 3 percent of South Asia’s mangrove population. 
    • According to the Indian State of Forest Report (IFSR) 2021, India has about 4,992 sq km (0.49 million hectares) of mangroves.
      • As per the IFSR report, there has been an increase in the mangrove cover from 4,046 sq km in 1987 to 4,992 sq km in 2021.
      • However, India lost 40% of its mangrove cover during the last century with Kerala losing 95% of its mangroves in the last 3 decades.
    • Mangroves in India are distributed across nine States and three UTs with West Bengal having the highest mangrove cover of 2,114 sq km
    • Besides the Sundarbans in West Bengal, the Andamans region, the Kachchh and Jamnagar areas in Gujarat too have substantial mangrove cover.

Importance of Mangroves

Mangroves play a crucial role in addressing climate change and mitigating its impacts. Here are some significant aspects of mangroves in relation to climate change:

  • Carbon Sequestration: Mangroves are highly efficient carbon sinks. By absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, mangroves help mitigate the greenhouse effect, reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and combating climate change.
  • Coastal Protection: Mangroves act as natural buffers against coastal erosion, storm surges, and tidal waves. Their intricate root systems and dense vegetation create a physical barrier that dissipates wave energy and reduces the impacts of storms and hurricanes.
  • Biodiversity Conservation: Mangroves are incredibly diverse ecosystems that support a wide range of flora and fauna. They provide critical habitats for numerous species, including fish, crustaceans, birds, and mammals.
  • Adaptation to Sea-Level Rise: Rising sea levels are one of the consequences of climate change. Mangroves have a unique ability to keep pace with sea-level rise by capturing sediment and building up their landward edge.
  • Sustainable Livelihoods: Mangroves are essential for the livelihoods of millions of people living in coastal communities. They support fisheries, provide timber and non-timber forest products, and offer opportunities for tourism and recreation.
  • Water Quality Improvement: Mangroves act as natural filters, trapping sediment and pollutants from the land before they reach the ocean. They help maintain water quality by reducing the impacts of nutrient runoff and preventing harmful algal blooms.

Threats to Mangroves

  • As per the 2022 report of the  Global Mangrove Alliance, between 2010 and 2020, around 600 sq km of mangroves were lost of which more than 62 per cent was due to direct human impacts.
  • Threats to mangroves include,
    • Infrastructure projects — industrial expansion and building of roads and railways. 
    • Shifting coastlines
    • Coastal erosion and storms
    • Urbanization
    • Pollution
    • Aquaculture: Shrimp farming alone destroyed 35,000 hectares of mangroves worldwide. 
    • Agriculture: Conversion to rice paddies.

Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC)

  • At the 27th session of Conference of Parties (COP27), the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) was launched with India as a partner. An initiative led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Indonesia, the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) includes India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan, and Spain.
  • It seeks to educate and spread awareness worldwide on the role of mangroves in curbing global warming and its potential as a solution for climate change.
  • The inter-governmental alliance works on a voluntary basis which means that there are no real checks and balances to hold members accountable. 
  • Instead, the parties will decide their own commitments and deadlines regarding planting and restoring mangroves. The members will also share expertise and support each other in researching, managing and protecting coastal areas.

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