Mangrove Forest: UPSC CSE IAS Answer Writing for 2020: Constructing Great Answer, Do's and Don'ts

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Question: Where do mangrove forests occur in India? Describe their main characteristics. (1996/15 marks)


What are mangroves and in what way are they useful to us? (2000, 10 marks)

Answer: Mangroves are marine tidal forests and they are most luxuriant around the mouths of large rivers and in sheltered bays.

Distribution: Ganga delta, W. Bengal, Goa, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Gujarat , Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Karnataka, Kerala

Characteristics: Mangrove forests are one of the most productive and bio diverse wetlands on earth. Growing in the inter-tidal areas and estuary mouths between land and sea, mangroves provide critical habitat for a diverse marine and terrestrial flora and fauna. Mangrove plants include trees, shrubs, ferns and palms. These plants are found in the tropics and sub-tropics on riverbanks and along coastlines, being unusually adapted to anaerobic conditions of both salt and fresh water environments. These plants have adapted to muddy and saline conditions. They produce stilt roots, which project above the mud and water in order to absorb oxygen. Mangrove plants form communities which help to stabilize banks and coastlines and become home to many types of animals.

Mangrove forests fix more carbon dioxide per unit area than phytoplankton in tropical oceans.

💡What to Include?

Salt tolerant

Grow in intertidal zone in tropical and subtropical regions

Evergreen forest in estuarine regions where mud-flats are wide and gently sloping

Dense forest – 123 nations & 1.5 lakh km2

Mangrove Locations in India

Forests in India

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Coastal protection – reduce erosion and storm surge & coastal flooding

Support soil stabilization and sediment capture – forms layer of peat

Prop roots of mangroves provide shelter to coral reefs from climate change

Support life cycle of fishes

Provides honey, dye, fodder, herbal remedies and fruits

Home to critically endangered species like hawksbill turtle (Sunderbans)

Reduce turbidity of water & allow light to reach ecosystem

Most carbon rich forest in tropics - carbon stock of one hectare of mangroves, including soil carbon, is approximately 1,000 tons, more than twice the carbon storage of upland forests and five times that of savannah

Mangroves have been afforded protection under Category I of the CRZ (Coastal Zone Regulation 1991). They are also entitled protection under the prevailing forest conservation regime Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Indian Forest Act, 1927 – Sunderbans as reserved area

Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 has had a crucial role in the conservation and management of mangrove ecosystems. It declares a Coastal Regulation Zone in which industrial and other activities such as discharge of untreated water and effluents, dumping of waste, land reclamation and bunding are restricted.