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Dying Mangroves

Participants of ECOCARE- SONEVA nature trip learning more about the Mangrove in Baa atoll

The tiny Archipelago of Maldives, not even visible on many of your Atlases is famous as a luxury tourist destination.

But more recently it has become famous as one of the countries which may be the first to disappear due to global warming.

The Net carbon emission of the Maldives does not even comprise of 0.5% of the worlds carbon emission, but actions within the tiny country is threatening its local ecosystems.

Mangroves or trees and shrubs that grow at saline conditions tolerated by various species range from brackish water, through pure seawater to water of over twice the salinity of ocean seawater, where the salt has become concentrated by evaporation is found across the low lying Indian Ocean Archipelago of Maldives.

Mangrove in Huraa Island, K. Atoll

Mangroves in the Maldives are normally found in depressions of islets locally known as Kulhi.

Some species of mangroves also grow along island lagoons. Mangrove areas are highly productive ecosystem contributing to the food chains of atoll islands.

They are also important to the atoll ecosystems, as they filter out silt, nutrients and sand that would otherwise go out to the house reef around the islands, suffocate corals and encourage algal growth.

Local geologists and environmentalists say these depressions or mangroves are of great importance to maintain the eco-balance. Some mangrove areas across the Maldives archipelago have been destroyed by reclamation for housing, tourism, agriculture and commercial purposes.

In many islands, sadly mangrove swamps are still use for disposal of garbage, of both organic and inorganic origin.

Most of the native plants in the Maldives are saline tolerant. Quite a number of the plants grow on the coastal vegetation belt around islands although high saline tolerant but differ that of mangroves. This was quite visible in the 2004 Asia’s tsunami disaster, most of the native plants survived leaving dead all the introduced and naturalized plants in tsunami-affected islands.

Some famous species found in Maldivian Mangroves are mainly the members of Rhizophora and Bruguiera. The unique fragile atoll environment is not adequately protected in the Maldives to the best of its extents, which ecologists have long recommended should enjoy special protection.

Unfortunately, few people in the Maldives understand the importance of mangrove forest and no proper regulatory measures are in place to conserve these vital atoll ecosystem.

Mangrove in Huraa Island, K. Atoll

*Posted on Ryma’s Blog

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