Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC)

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    In News

    • Recently, the UAE and Indonesia launched the “Mangrove Alliance for Climate”on the sidelines of the UN climate summit COP27, being held in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.

    About the Alliance

    • As part of this alliance, an international mangrove research centre will be established in Indonesia which will conduct studies on mangrove ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and ecotourism.
    • Aim: 
      • To strengthen conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems worldwide. 
      • The alliance will raise awareness about the role of mangroves as a “nature-based solution to climate change”.
    • Partners: 
      • Spearheaded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in partnership with Indonesia
      • India, Australia, Japan, Spain and Sri Lanka have joined it as partners.

    Mangroves 

    • About:
      • Mangroves are small trees and shrubs which grow along the coastlines. 
      • These trees thrive in salty water and form unique forests on the edge of land and the sea. 
      • They also grow in swamps. 
      • Mangrove forests can survive extreme weather conditions and require low oxygen levels to survive.
    • Features:
      • These forests have the ability to store up to 10 times more carbon per hectare than the terrestrial forests. 
      • They can store carbon up to 400 per cent faster than land-based tropical rainforests.
      • They cover less than 1 percent of earth’s surface and act as natural barriers against sea’s wrath.
      • They also provide breeding grounds for marine biodiversity and 80 percent of global fish populations depend on healthy mangrove ecosystems. 
    • Distribution:
      • Mangroves are distributed in the tropical and subtropical region of the world and are found in 123 countries.

    India and the Mangroves

    • India contributes to nearly half of the total mangrove cover in South Asia. 
    • West Bengal has the highest percentage of mangrove cover in India. Sundarbans in West Bengal is the largest mangrove forest in the world.
    • It is followed by Gujarat and Andaman, and Nicobar islands. 
    • Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala too have mangrove.
    • Increase in Mangrove Cover: 
      • As per the  India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021, mangroves cover in the country is 4,992 square km, which is 0.15 percent of the country’s total geographical area.
      • The mangrove cover in the country has increased by only 17 sq. km. in 2021 as compared to the mangrove cover assessed in 2019.

    Significance of Mangrove

    • Natural Armed Forces: 
      • With notable adaptive features, mangroves are natural armed forces of tropical and subtropical nations. 
      • Mangrove thickets maintain water quality by filtering pollutants and trapping sediments originating from land.
    • Checking Global Temperature: Mangrove’s unique ability to capture and store carbon is increasingly catching the attention of the world, which is desperately looking for ways to keep global temperature in check.
    • Fighting against Climate Change: They are the best option to fight against consequences of climate change such as sea level rise and increasing frequency of natural calamities like cyclones and storm surges.

    Challenges

    • Coastal development, including the construction of shrimp farms, hotels, and other structures, is the primary threat to mangroves.
    • Mangrove forests are cleared to make room for agricultural land and human settlements.
    • Overfishing, pollution, and rising sea levels are the other threats to mangrove forests and their ecosystem.
    • Mangrove trees are used for firewood, construction wood, charcoal production, and animal fodder. In some parts of the world, there has been overharvesting which is no longer sustainable.

    Government’s Efforts to Protect Mangroves

    • The promotional measures are being implemented through a Central Sector Scheme under National Coastal Mission Programme on ‘Conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral Reefs’
      • Under this programme, annual Management Action Plan (MAP) for conservation and management of mangroves are formulated and implemented in all the coastal States and Union Territories.
    • Regulatory measures are implemented through Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification (2019) under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; the Indian Forest Act, 1927; the Biological Diversity Act, 2002; and rules under these acts as amended from time to time.
    • Magical Mangroves campaign: 
      • As per information provided by the World Wide Fund for Nature, (WWF), India, the WWF India has enjoined citizens in nine states, which include Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, West Bengal and Karnataka on mangrove conservation through the Magical Mangroves campaign. 
    • Scheme for Conservation & Management of Mangroves: 
      • The Government under Centrally sponsored scheme for conservation & Management of Mangroves, extends assistance to Coastal State/UTs for implementation of action plans including survey and demarcation, alternation and supplementary livelihood, protection measures and education and awareness activities.
    • Integrated Coastal Zone management Project
      • The Ministry piloted an Integrated Coastal Zone management Project in Coastal stretches of 3 states namely Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal, with the objective of Conservation and Protection of Coastal resources which included plantation of mangroves as one of the major activities.

    Way Ahead

    • The integration of mangroves into the national programmes for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is the need of the hour. 
    • Creating a new carbon sink from mangrove afforestation and reducing emissions from mangrove deforestation are two possible ways for countries to meet their NDC targets and achieve carbon neutrality.
    • Mangroves are the economic foundations of many tropical coastal regions. To sustain the blue economy, it is imperative to ensure the sustainability of coastal habitats, particularly mangroves for tropical nations, at the local, regional, and international levels.

    Source: BS + IE