The Transboundary Sundarbans Mangroves (India and Bangladesh)
Sundarban mangroves, world’s largest contiguous forested wetland system (estimated at about 10,000 sq km), lie in the deltas of Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna rivers. Rivers Hooghly and Baleshwar form its western and eastern boundaries respectively whereas the river Harinbhanga (= Ichamati or Raimongal) demarcates the border between India and Bangladesh. The Sundarban delta has undergone rapid changes caused by neotectonic activity over the past millennium, and geomorphic processes of sediment accretion and erosion have influenced its extent. Habitat diversity of Sundarban includes freshwater, brackish and saline marshes, rice paddies and shrimp farms, besides the multilayered forest. Sundarbans, extremely rich in its biodiversity are the only known mangrove habitat of the Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris). More than 12 million people live in and around the Sundarbans, of which 2.5 million depend almost entirely upon the mangroves for their livelihoods. Substantial efforts have been made for conservation of the Sundarbans by designating parts as sanctuaries, national parks, biosphere reserves and even as World Heritage in both India and Bangladesh. However, these mangroves are being impacted by water management strategies (including flow diversion) in the two countries, various human pressures – particularly conversion for agriculture and aquaculture, and are threatened by the sea level rise due to global climate change. The future of the Sundarban mangroves depends on our ability to manage efficiently the freshwater resources and effective adaptive responses to climate change.
KeywordsGanga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin Bengal tiger Sea level rise Aquaculture Cyclonic storms
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