The rapid deforestation of the Sundarbans Mangroves is expected to intensify as human development in the area continues and climate change worsens, according to a new report from the Zoological Society of London. This will result in the extinction of a great many plants and animals, including the Bengal tiger.
The Sundarbans are currently losing as much as 200 meters of coast every year.
Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, the senior author of the paper, says: “Our results indicate a rapidly retreating coastline that cannot be accounted for by the regular dynamics of the Sundarbans. Degradation is happening fast, weakening this natural shield for India and Bangladesh.”
“The name ‘Sundarban’ can be literally translated as ‘beautiful forest’ in the Bengali language. The area is is the largest block of continuous mangrove forest in the world, being home to almost 500 species of reptile, fish, bird and mammals, including the endangered Bengal tiger.”
Globally mangroves aren’t common, but they in their native areas they function as “an important barrier against climate change, providing protection to coastal areas from tsunamis and cyclones. They are also the most carbon rich forests in the tropics with high carbon sequestration potential, meaning their degradation and loss substantially reduce our ability to mitigate, and adapt to, predicted changes in climatic conditions.”
Currently, mangroves makeup less than 1% of all of the forested regions in the world, “amounting to roughly half the size of the UK. It is essential that the protection of mangroves becomes a priority, particularly for the charismatic species which will disappear with them if no action is taken to preserve their habitat.”
Source: Zoological Society of London
Image Credits: NOAA;