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Global warming is a great perl, the most pretentious
areas are the coastlines of less developed countries and India is one of them. Mainly,
the deltas of river are facing the brunt of climate change and these effects
can be expected to rise with a pace in the course of this century.The Sunderban
Rainforest are one of the region in India having a great threat.The Sunderbans
is the world’s stupendous mangrove forest. Designated as a United Nations World
Heritage site in both India and Bangladesh, it covers nearly 4,000
square miles (10,000 square kilometers). The forest provides home to the Bengal
tiger, as well as other rare and endangered species of aquatic mammals, birds and
reptiles.

DESCRIPTION

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Sundarbans mangrove
ecosystem, (between 21032’–220 40′ North and between 880 85’–89000 East) is an
unique, productive and highly valued ecosystem in terms of economy, environment
and ecology (Chakraborty, 2011). Although, mangroves of India account for only
0.67% of the total designated forest area of the country, their presence remain
utterly important under growing concern of global reduction of mangrove habitats
and need special attention. The Indian mangroves contribute significantly
towards the shrinking of global mangrove reserves with approximately 2.7% of
the world’s mangroves those exist along the 7516.6km long coastline of India
(Giri et al.,2011). Several conservation strategies have been adopted to
protect Indian mangroves in view of ongoing and persisting ecological and
anthropogenic threats.(Bhatt and Kathiresan, 2012). The Sundarbans Mangrove
Forest is particularly critical and a highly fragile ecosystem because of its
complexgeo-morphological and environmental settings, enormous population
density and gradual shrinking of the islands under the rising Sea level (Das
Gupta and Shaw, 2013).

ASSESSMENT OF
BIODIVERSITY Field surveys, collection, and identification of floral and faunal
components during last two decades following standard literatures (Chaudhuri
and Choudhury 1994, Chakraborty, 2011, Giri and Chakraborty, 2012). RECORDING
OF PHYSICO-CHEMICAL AND METEOROLOGICAL PARAMETERS Different Physico-chemical
parameters of soil and water were analyzed following standard methods (APHA,
2005) and with the help of water quality checker (Towa, Model No. WQC 22A
Japan). Meteorological parameters (Rainfall, Temperature) of previous decades
were collected from the Indian Meteorological Department, Alipore, Kolkata
(Chakraborty et al.. 2009).

APPLICATION OFREMOTE
SENSING AND GIS Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery has proven to be effective
in mapping temporal and spatial variations in environmental indicators within
large water bodies, as well as phyto-environment, pedological characterization,
land use/cover system etc. For land use/cover thematisation, Optimum Index
Factor (OIF) has been used for selecting the potential band combination, which
is based on the total variance within bands and correlation coefficient between
bands. The products of vegetation vis-s-vis forest cover mapping derived from
remotely sensed images are being objectively verified and communicated in order
to enable to chalk out proper strategies for sustainable environmental
management. However, the role of vegetation indices and textural images
improving land-cover classification performance is still poorly understood,
especially in moist tropical vegetated regions such as the Sundarbans mangrove
forest areas.

The
Sundarban Biosphere Reserve which was declared in 1989 is one of the three greatest
marine biosphere reserves in the country. The main objective of the marine
biosphere reserve is protection, conservation and judicious utilization of the marine
environment. The Sundarbans Project Tiger and National Park and the three
Wildlife Sanctuaries i.e Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary, Lothian Island
Sanctuary, Haliday Island Sanctuary are located within the biosphere reserve.
The other areas in the reserve are habitations and cultivated fields. People
living in these forest areas are predominantly either fishermen or farmers. The
Sundarban Biosphere Reserve has been divided into two regions for effective
management. They are the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve under the Field Director
(Gosaba) and D.F.O Parganas South (Alipore).

CAUSES AND ITS EXTENT

Tigers already
threatened by poaching and habitat loss.
In addition to climate change, the Sundarbans tigers, like
other tiger populations around the world already face tremendous threats from
poaching and habitat loss. Tiger ranges have fallen by 40 percent over the past
decade, and tigers today occupy less than seven percent of their original
range. Scientists fear that accelerating deforestation and rampant poaching
could push some tiger populations to the same fate as their now-extinct Javan
and Balinese relatives in other parts of Asia. 

Tigers are attacked for their body parts and highly prized
skins, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The 2010 Year of the
Tiger will mark an important year for conservation efforts to save wild tigers,
with WWF continuing to play a vital role in implementing bold new ideas to save
this magnificent Asian big cat.

The
current and potential threats to both the aquatic and terrestrial elements of
the property are many. Largely effective management of the Sundarbans National
Park means that current threats to the site are minimized. However, the
Sundarbans National Park is part of the wider Sundarbans ecosystem, and
activities both within the site’s buffer zone and within the wider Sundarbans
and the Bay of Bengal provide cause for concern in regards to the site’s
Outstanding Universal Values. Future threats from sea level rise and increased
frequency and intensity of extreme weather events (storms and tidal surges)
under climate change are severe. The site’s ecological and biodiversity values
are all affected by these pressures and the Outstanding Universal Values of the
site are therefore under serious threat in the future.

The largest habitat of
the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Sundarbans is home to five critically endangered
reptiles, including the Hawksbill Sea Turtle and River Terrapin.

The endangered and
near-threatened species in Sundarbans include the Asian Giant Softshell Turtle,
Indian Rock Python, King Cobra, Greater Adjutant Stork, Black-headed Ibis,
Fishing Cat and Gangetic Dolphin.

According to official
figures, about 175,000 tourists visited the Sundarbans tiger reserve, while
another 42,000 people visited the biosphere reserve in 2015.

Besides large-scale
tourism, climate change is also posing a threat to Sundarbans, according to
World Wildlife Fund-India (WWF-India).

A Climate Adaptation
Report released by the group warned that Sundarbans was “already in the midst
of a heightened state of danger.”

Atmospheric warming is
causing thermal expansion of waters, inducing a sea-level rise of about 12 mm
per year, the report said, adding that surface air temperatures over the Bay of
Bengal have been rising at a rate of 0.019 degrees Celsius (0.034 degrees
Fahrenheit) per year.

“Given the
disproportionately heavy impact that climate change is expected to have on this
delta area, the need to improve adaptive management and develop more
appropriate solutions for this unique system has become acutely urgent,” the
WWF report said.

Ratul Saha, who heads
WWF’s Sundarbans Landscape team, said, “The current policies and patterns of
development have to be completely revised, or else the situation would be
catastrophic. The livelihoods and the survival of the people are at risk.”

Climate change has
been found to be responsible for several cyclonic storms and increased
frequency of extreme weather events in the recent past in the Sundarbans, Saha
said. It has also been causing coastal erosion, change in embankments,
acidification of waters and submergence of islands.

Analysis of the problem

Mangroves are diverse and highly productive ecological
communities at the land-sea interface. The Sundarban mangrove forests are the
largest in the world. They provide a wide range of important ecosystem
services, including: the provision of food and water for millions of its
inhabitants; protection against the worst effects of natural hazards, such as
with cyclones and tsunamis; the ability to act as a giant long-term carbon
sink; the retention of terrestrial sediments; and as a habitat for many
species, including for the rare and protected Royal Bengal tiger. The importance
of the Sundarbans therefore extends from the local to the global, where
different stakeholder objectives attempt to decide its future. During the last
two-and-a-half centuries, the Sundarban mangrove ecosystem has been affected by
human impact, slow onset climatic change and extreme weather events. Human
activities in the inhabited part of the Indian Sundarbans have a greater
incremental impact on mangrove forests, salinity increase, relative mean sea
level rise and land loss than previously assumed. Protection of mangrove
forests is extremely complex and multiscalar because of the interaction of
climatic threats, path-dependent development regimes and environmental
governance. Enforcement of legal protection is intricately connected to power
struggles and by no means a universal virtue. Direct human pressure on these
strictly protected forests comes from the extraction of goods and enlarging
arable land.

While mangroves inherently possess a high resilience to
natural disturbances such as tropical storms or tsunamis, the effects of
anthropogenic degradation is often irreversible. This is why it is important to
reconfigure development plans by including local requirements and to approach
the problem through a multiscalar and polycentric manner, instead of looking at
conservation and climate change adaptation separately. More effective
conservation elicits adaptation co-benefits and vice versa, for example
bio-embankments and beach nourishment, which have provided effective protection
against coastal erosion along the Netherlands coasts. In the Sundarbans, this
calls for an interdisciplinary collaboration between natural and social
scientists to develop policies addressing conservation and climate change
adaptation. The West Bengal government recently announced a number of
development measures for the Sundarbans including ecotourism infrastructure.
Such developments, if realized, might irreversibly jeopardize the ecosystem,
without first addressing the core problems, i.e. industrial
pollution, upstream diversion schemes, forest clearing, and, importantly, local
livelihood needs.

 

 

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