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Mangrove Forests


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Mangrove Forests

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i. Natural Mangrove Forests

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The largest single tract of natural mangrove forest is the Sundarban. It consists of a total of 6,01,700 hectare which is 4.07% of total land mass of the country and 40% of total forest land.

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Sundarban harbours 334 species of trees, shrubs and epyphites and 269 species of wild animals. World renowned Royal Bengal Tiger is the magnificent animal of the Sundarban. 1,39,700 hectare forest land of Sundarban is declared as World Heritage Site where three wildlife sanctuaries viz.Sundarban East, Sundarban West and Sundarban South wildlife sanctuaries are located. The forest inventory of 1998 exhibits that there are 12.26 million cubic meter timber is available from the species of Sundri (Heritiera fomes), Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha), Keora (Sonneratia apetala), Baen (Avecennia officinalis), Dhundul (Xylocarpus granatum), Passur (Xylocarpus mekongensis) etc with 15cm and above diameter.

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Sundri is the most important tree species in the Sundarban which is distributed over 73% of the reserve. Extent of Sundri is followed by Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha), Baen (Avecinnia offcecinalis), Passur (Xylocarpur mekongensis), Keora (Sonneratia apetala) etc. There are some other non-wood forest products like Golpata (Nypa fruticans), honey, wax, fish, crab etc which are also of high value.

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Sundarban is a unique habitat for a number of wildlife. Among them some mammals are Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), Gangetic Dolphin (Platanista gangetica), Monkey (Macaca mulatta), Indian Fishing cat (Felis viverrina), Indian Otter (Lutra perspicillata), Spotted Deer (Axis axis) etc. Reptiles like Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator), Rock Python (Python molurus) and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) etc. are found in the Sundarban.

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ii. Mangrove Plantation

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Mangrove afforestation along the entire southern coastal frontier is an innovation of foresters. During 1960-61, Government undertook afforestation programme along the shore land of coastal districts. This initiative got mementum from 1980-81 with the aid of development partners and afforestation programs are extended over foreshore islands, embankments and along the open coasts.

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Since 1960-61 upto 1999-2000, 142,835 hectare of mangrove plantations have been raised under a number of coastal afforestation projects. The present net area of mangrove plantation is 132,000 hectare after losing some area due to natural calamities.

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