Barrier to cyclone storms: Odisha plans to plant mangroves along its coast


Context:

Odisha is vulnerable to various natural disasters like cyclone, flood, hailstorm, drought due to its unique geo-climatic condition. The Odisha government has proposed to raise mangrove and casuarinas plantation in the coastal belt.

Previously, the mangroves served as a natural barrier to cyclonic winds in Bhitarkanika National Park during Cyclone Yaas.

What are Mangroves?

Mangroves occur worldwide in the tropics and subtropics, mainly between latitudes 30° N and 30° S, with the greatest mangrove area with 5° of the equator.

A mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water.

Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees, also called halophytes, and are adapted to live in harsh coastal conditions.

They contain a complex salt filtration system and complex root system to cope with salt water immersion and wave action.

They have blind roots which are called These roots help these trees to respire in anaerobic soils.

The seeds of Mangrove Forests trees germinate in the trees itself before falling – This is called Viviparity mode of reproduction.

Importance of Mangroves:

Mangrove roots help to impede water flow and thereby enhance the deposition of sediment in areas (where it is already occurring), stabilise the coastal shores, provide a breeding ground for fishes.

Mangroves moderate monsoonal tidal floods and reduce inundation of coastal lowlands.

They prevent coastal soil erosion.

They protect coastal lands from tsunami, hurricanes and floods.

Mangroves enhance the natural recycling of nutrients.

Mangrove supports numerous florae, avifauna and wildlife.

Provide a safe and favourable environment for breeding, spawning, rearing of several fishes.

They supply woods, firewood, medicinal plants and edible plants to local people.

They provide numerous employment opportunities to local communities and augments their livelihood.

Additional information

On World Environment Day, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that 50 million mangroves would be planted in the Sundarbans in the near future to compensate for the plants’ loss during Cyclone Amphan.