G20 leaders in huddle at mangrove forests; carbon sinks face risk in India

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, November 16: G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia went into a huddle at the ‘Taman Hutan Raya Ngurah Rai’ Mangrove forests as the COP27 negotiations entered the crucial phase in Sharm el-Sheikh where the developed countries continue to drag their feet over funding damages to the environment by their fossil fuel-driven industrialization.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with other G-20 Leaders visited and planted Mangroves at the ‘Taman Hutan Raya Ngurah Rai’ Mangrove forests on the sidelines of G-20 Summit in Bali on Wednesday. Mangroves play an important role in global conservation efforts. India has joined the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC), a joint initiative of Indonesia and UAE under the Indonesian G-20 Presidency.

Incidentally, more than 50 mangrove species can be found spread over 5000 sq km in India. India is placing emphasis on the protection and restoration of mangroves, which are rich sites of biodiversity and serve as effective carbon sinks.

However, scientists — Pujarini Samal, Jyoti Srivastava, Pooja Nitin Saraf, Bipin Charles, and Singarasubramanian — in a research paper published in Ecological Informatics

Have stated that certain mangrove species in Chilika and Sundarbans along the east coast and Dwarka and Porbandar along the west coast of India are likely to reduce and shift landward by 2070 due to decline in suitable habitats in response to precipitation and sea level changes. Mangroves support numerous ecosystem services and help reduce coastal ecological risks, yet they are one of the severely endangered ecosystems, declining rapidly due to climate change, sea level fluctuations, and human activities.

A limited understanding of mangrove spatial distribution and species habitat requirement has reduced the success of conservation initiatives in many parts of the Indian coastline. This underlines an urgent need to develop model-based studies to identify conservation target areas at Spatio-temporal scales, specifically in rich mangrove biodiversity regions along the Indian coastline.

Scientists at the BSIP, an autonomous institution of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), used Ensemble species distribution model to study the past and current state of two mangrove species and predict their future. They found significant reduction and landward shift of mangroves in the future (2070) due to decline in suitable habitats, specifically along the east and west coast of India in response to precipitation and sea level changes in the future. In contrast, the maximum range expansion of the mangroves was mapped in the past, which was validated by fossil pollen data.

The study suggests that establishing effective buffer zones in these conserved areas can narrow down the effect of non-conservative areas on the core conservative zone, and adopting preventive measures can turn some areas into highly suitable regions for facilitating the growth of these mangrove species.

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