The International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem is observed annually on July 26th. Its purpose is to increase global understanding of the significance of mangrove ecosystems as distinct, precious, and delicate environments. The day also seeks to advocate for sustainable practices in managing, safeguarding, and utilizing these ecosystems. The General Conference of UNESCO officially adopted this International Day in 2015.
Significance of the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem
- Mangroves are significant for the wellbeing, food security, and protection of coastal communities across the world.
- They extend support to the rich biodiversity, including fish and crustaceans.
- They act as a barrier against tsunamis, storm surges, erosion and rising sea levels.
- They also act as boundaries between sea and land as well as provide protection and food security to several coastal communities.
- Soils of Mangrove ecosystem acts as carbon sinks, and are capable of storing 10 times more carbon as compared to land-based forests.
- Mangroves in India
As per Forest Survey Report 2021, Mangrove cover in India has increased by 17 sq km as compared to 2019 assessment. It now spread to 4,992 sq km. Three states in which highest increase in mangrove cover was observed include- Odisha (8 sq km), Maharashtra (4 sq km) and Karnataka (3 sq km).
History of International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem
The International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, observed on July 26th, was established by UNESCO during their General Conference in 2015 to create awareness about the critical value of mangrove ecosystems. The main objective of this day is to promote the preservation and sustainable development of mangrove forests.
Mangrove forests hold significant ecological importance as their intricate root systems serve as protective nurseries for various organisms, shielding them from predators, extreme heat, and powerful tides. Additionally, these coastal forests are highly effective in removing five times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere compared to terrestrial forests.
Unfortunately, over the past four decades, the extent of mangrove forests has nearly halved due to various threats. The primary risk arises from shrimp farming, where large portions of the forest are cleared to create enclosed ponds for shrimp breeding. This practice involves the excessive use of antibiotics and chemicals to prevent diseases and enhance yield, leading to irreversible damage to the ecological balance of the forests.
Moreover, the valuable wood from these forests is often exploited and sold for substantial profits, and it is also used in charcoal production, leading to severe deforestation. The construction of roads, buildings, and the diversion of rivers for irrigation purposes further disrupt the mangrove habitat, particularly since most mangrove forests are located on estuaries.
Important takeaways for all competitive exams:
- UNESCO Headquarters: Paris, France
- UNESCO Founded: 16 November 1945, London, United Kingdom
- UNESCO Head: Audrey Azoulay; (Director-General)