‘Long-term conservation plans needed to protect these natural barriers’

Climatic change, cyclones, pollution, aquaculture and industries also threaten the mangrove. Thirunaranan stresses on the need for a long-term conservation project.
Mangroves serve as a natural barrier protecting the impact of cyclonic activities
Mangroves serve as a natural barrier protecting the impact of cyclonic activities

CHENNAI: Conservationists and forest department insiders demand long-term study on Tamil Nadu mangroves as the State is vulnerable to climate change actions including super cyclones and Tsunami. Mangroves serve as a natural barrier protecting the impact of cyclonic activities and can play a major role in addressing the nutrient value in the food chain.

“During the Gaja cyclone, the impact was adversely felt in Kodiakkarai (Nagapattinam) and Kodaikanal (Dindigul) forest areas, but the Muthupet lagoon comprising mangrove forest served as a bioshield protecting the fishing hamlets,” recalls a senior forest department official.

Though Cuddalore had always been vulnerable to storms and floods, the Pitchavaram mangrove protects a few fishing hamlets from the impact of storms and floods in flood-prone district, opines the source admitting that not enough funds and research projects are allocated for their conservation.

“The mangroves pose an ideal habitat for more than 100 species in the marine kingdom and support over 60 species of migratory and terrestrial birds. Mangroves play a conducive role by serving as a breeding ground for rare prawns and crab varieties found in TN,” says KVRK Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust. “Even during the 2004 Tsunami, the hamlets surrounded by mangroves were least affected when compared to the fishing hamlets located close to seashores.”

Climatic change, cyclones, pollution, aquaculture and industries also threaten the mangrove. Thirunaranan stresses on the need for a long-term conservation project.

“Mangroves also play a major role in the human food chain. With pesticides and insecticides entering the food chain, the marine protein from mangroves serves as a cheap and promising food resource for the public,” says conservation scientist A Kumarguru, Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Tiruchy. “Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants of tropical countries and play a major role in fighting climate change. These are highly sensitive and fragile plants that get eroded due to pollution and need regular scientific monitoring and research projects.”

According to forest department sources, there’s no very dense mangrove in TN, just moderately dense and open mangroves.

“It’s spread across Chidambaram, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur and Ramanathapuram. Of this, considerable mangrove cover falls in Pitchavaram and Muthupet area,” sources said.

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