New Delhi: India recorded a net increase of 23.34 sq km of mangrove cover between 2009 and 2011, thanks to efforts of one of the most industrialised states, Gujarat, in planting and regenerating the ecosystem rich in biodiversity.
The new biennial assessment report by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) has commended Gujarat's contribution in planting and regenerating the mangroves, a salt tolerant plant community, which harbours a number of critically endangered flora and fauna species.
"Compared with 2009 assessment, there has been a net increase of 23.34 sqm km in the mangrove cover of the country. This can be attributed to increased plantations particularly in Gujarat state and regeneration of natural mangrove areas," according to the assessment by the FSI, an arm of Union Environment Ministry.
Mangroves in India account for about three percent of the world's mangrove vegetation.
The report says mangrove cover in India is 4,662 sq km, which is 0.14 percent of the country's total geographical area. Sundarbans in West Bengal accounts for almost half of the total area under mangroves in the country.
The very dense mangrove comprises 1403 sq km (30.10 percent of the total mangrove cover), moderately dense mangrove is 1658.12 sq km (35.57 percent) while open mangroves cover an area of 1600.44 sq km (33 percent).
Mangrove forests are regarded as the most productive wetlands in the world on account of the large quantities of organic and inorganic nutrients released in the coastal waters by these ecosystems.
They also act as nurseries for fin fish, shell fish, crustaceans and molluscs.