Mangrove in Sunderbans losing capacity to absorb CO2: Study


A recently conducted study has found that the vast mangrove forest in the Sunderbans is fast losing its capacity to absorb carbon dioxide which is one of the main greenhouse gases, from the atmosphere due to rise in the salinity of water, rampant deforestation and pollution.

The mangrove forest, marsh grass, phytoplanktons, molluscus and other coastal vegetation in the world’s largest delta are the natural absorbers of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to the study.

The stored carbon in the plants is known as “Blue Carbons”. The absorption of CO2 is a process which contributes to reduction of the warming of the earth and other ill effects of climate change.

The research study, “Blue Carbon Estimation in Coastal Zone of Eastern India — Sunderbans”, was financed by the Union Government and headed by noted marine scientist Abhijit Mitra.

The report took three years to prepare and it was submitted to the government last year.

The scientists involved in the study have sounded an alarm bell, especially in the central Sunderbans, one of the three zones into which the forest was divided for the study, the other two being western and eastern.

“The situation is quite alarming, especially in the central part. The capacity of the mangrove forest, especially the Byne species, to absorb carbon dioxide has eroded to a large extent. This will effect the entire ecosystem of the area,” Sufia Zaman, a senior marine biologist who was a part of the team, told PTI.

According to Mitra, the study was conducted mainly on the Byne species of mangrove. There are 34 other species of mangroves found in the forest including Keora and Genwa.

Mitra said, “In the central part of Sunderbans near Matla, the capability of Byne trees to absorb carbon was 22 tonnes per hectare, whereas the scenario is a bit different in the eastern Sunderbans where the capacity of Byne to absorb carbons is near about 35 tonnes per hectare.”