THANE: Stressing that mangroves are as important as coral reefs and helpful in protection from sea-related calamities like tsunami, a noted scientist has called for conservation of these coastline habitats of trees and shrubs in the country.
The conservation can be done by creation of mangrove parks, biosphere reserves and sanctuaries, Mangrove Society of India's Executive Secretary Dr Arvind Untawale said.
He was speaking recently at the inauguration of a day-long national convention on mangroves here organised by 'Paryavaran Dakshata Manch', a city-based NGO working towards conservation of natural wealth.
Mangroves are various large and extensive types of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics.
"Everyone of us, small or big, needs to take the responsibility for the destruction of nature. Mangroves are a speciality of the tropical belt. The general view is that mangroves are wasteland and non-productive. Mangroves are most productive, in fact they are more than or as important as coral reefs," he said.
Explaining the significance of mangroves, Untawale said they play an important role in protecting areas from tsunamis, form a vital part of the marine food chain and help in the recycling of nutrients and provide many natural as well as medicinal products.
They are effective in pollution control and also help in controlling the 'Green House' effect by absorbing carbon dioxide. They are a source of rich and varied bio-diversity. They also give scope for education, research work, eco-tourism and help in the socio-economic status, the scientist said.
Mangroves form an important link in the food chain, the fallen leaves are used by detritus which form the feeding, breeding and nursery ground for fish, he said, adding that they also are home to the small and big fish as well and so many birds who feed on them.
Mangroves show zonation, they can be rocky and sandy, sandy clay, silty clay and silt, the expert said.
In India, there are 65 species of true and associated mangroves, he said, adding that the East Coast has 80 per cent of it, while the West Coast shows 20 per cent, which is mainly due to different climatic conditions.
There is a need to create awareness programmes, particularly among youth, about mangroves and its conservation, he stressed.
In his address, Untawale also explained new techniques of mangrove plantation like trenching, dibbling, tissue culture and transplantation.