After neglect for years, Forest dept takes up drive to save mangroves in Bapatla

Increasing pollution, illegal encroachments and development projects have affected biodiversity of the region.

Published: 26th September 2022 07:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2022 07:37 AM   |  A+A-

Mangrove forest. Image used for representational purpose. (File Photo)

Mangrove forest. Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)

Express News Service

GUNTUR: After years of negligence, the forest department finally decided to develop mangrove forests in the delta region of Bapatla district. With a 74-km coastal line, 405 sq km forest cover and 67.97 sq km mangrove forests, the Bapatla region is known for its rich biodiversity.

Increasing pollution, illegal encroachments and development projects have affected biodiversity of the region. With its long coastline, the Bapatla region is famous for aquaculture. The untreated water and chemicals from hatcheries and processing units being released into the sea and the increasing plastic wastes at beaches are causing water pollution, affecting dolphins and olive ridley turtles. These species have seen a sharp decline of about 31% in the past few decades in the area. 

Environmentalist K Ramana Kumar said that the mangroves are the most significant flora present in the region with tide-influenced coats, where mud and silt have collected. They protect the shorelines from getting damaged during storms and hurricanes, waves, and floods. They also help in preventing erosion by stabilising sediments with their tangled root systems. But due to a lack of proper care and monitoring, the mangroves have been severely affected in the past four decades. 

According to the Forest Survey of India, 2021, the mangroves in the erstwhile Guntur district declined by 0.03% from 2019. And the arrival of migratory birds has decreased by 40% in the last few years and many species are reportedly in the danger of extinction. 

The main reasons for the damaging of mangrove forests are poaching, deforestation and encroachment of forest by people for turning the forest land into fish and shrimp ponds, which has become a major challenge, opined Ramana Kumar. 

Realising the grave situation of these mangroves, the forest department is taking up a plantation programme to increase the green cover. Bapatla Forest Range Officer Srinivas said a plantation drive was taken up in over 20 hectares of land by spending Rs 3.5 lakh in the financial year 2022-23 so far. “We are taking special measures to prevent poaching. Along with this, an eco-tourism project and eco-education centre near Suryalanka beach are also on cards,” Srinivas added.

Rare species 
The mangroves, spread over 6,000 hectares in the delta region, are home to several rare species of animals including woolly necked storks, olive ridley turtles and  migratory birds 



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