Anchors for Mumbai's environment

Jun 02, 2017, 12:30 IST | Krutika Behrawala

Ahead of World Environment Day, a conservationist tells the story of Mumbai's green soldiers expected to put up a serious fight

Illustration/ Uday Mohite

Did you know that the Koli community worships the mangroves? That's because the trees, growing in brackish water at the interface of land and sea, are the breeding ground of young fish, and help generate revenue for the community. "They are a refuge for many marine organisms. The mangrove forests at Thane Creek also protect over 20,000 flamingoes that visit Mumbai every year. Both species (Lesser and Greater Flamingoes) feed on the mudflats during low tide, but rest along the creeks flanked by thick mangrove cover as they feel much safer here," says Dr Anish Andheria, president, Wildlife Conservation Trust and member of the Maharashtra State Board of Wildlife.

Dr Anish Andheria
Dr Anish Andheria

This evening, Andheria will conduct a talk on Mumbai's green lifelines as part of Godrej India Culture Lab's World Environment Day (June 5) celebrations. The event is presented in collaboration with Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Marine Ecology Centre. "The talk will highlight how mangroves are integral to our eco-system, being the only trees that help build land. They are the first line of defence during a natural calamity. I will also discuss how the number of mangrove species and the range of its cover has depleted due to land grabbing."

An avid wildlife photographer, Andheria is set to showcase a photo-series from his trips to mangrove forests across India. On the sidelines, check out an exhibit displaying the wildlife that thrives in the mangrove vestige of Vikhroli.

On: Today, 5 pm 
At: Godrej One, Pirojshanagar, Vikhroli (E).

Mangrove origins
Originating in Southeast Asia, mangrove forests are found on coasts throughout the world's tropical and subtropical regions. "Mumbai's mangroves have a history older than the city, which is made up of seven islands surrounded by mangroves. The British, on realising the commercial importance of the islands off the Arabian Sea, ordered the clearing of the mangroves that rimmed the once-separated islands to create a continuous land mass then known as Bombay," informs Nishigandha Pednekar, executive assistant - director at BNHS.

What's cool about mangroves?

  • They act as a natural barrier to floods and protect the shoreline from soil erosion.
  • The trees absorb almost eight times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than any other ecosystem.
  • They physically adapt their leaves, roots and reproductive methods in order to survive in a harsh, dynamic environment of soft, low oxygen soils and varying salinity. They are also called halophytes as the trees are salt-tolerant.

20 Number of mangrove species in Mumbai of which Avicennia and Rhizophora constitute 80 per cent of the cover

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