The ecosystems play a significant role in safeguarding biodiversity
As anthropogenic pressure is taking its toll on mangroves along the nearly 50-km long coastline in the district, efforts are on for protecting the existing ecosystems which act as ‘buffer zones’ between the land and sea. The district has mangroves spread over 10,000 hectares and their extent has of late come down to just over 2,000 hectares mainly due to human activity.
Thousands of hectares of mangroves that exist in Bapatla, Karlapalem, Nizampatnam, and Repalle mandals eroded in the last decade.
Mangrove forests are among the most productive terrestrial ecosystems that play a significant role in protecting biodiversity and environment but they are fast fading away from the coastal landscape, according to P.C. Sai Babu, secretary of Forum for Better Bapatla and reader of Bapatla Arts & Science College. Mangroves protect the coast from erosion due to wind, waves, and water currents and protect coral reefs, sea-grass beds, and shipping lanes from accumulation of silt.
They are also known to absorb pollutants and host a number of threatened or endangered species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds and provide spawning grounds to a variety of fish and shellfish.
The swamps in which mangroves grow provide a dwelling ground particularly for exotic birds which come for nesting.
However, there is no definite census of wild animals which inhabit the mangroves and the forests in the district in general.
Mapping taken up
Meanwhile, the Forest Department has taken up mapping of the forest lands including mangroves with the help of Differential Global Positioning System for the purpose of planning conservation measures.
The cooperation of voluntary organisations is sought for raising fresh mangrove plantations. Efforts are under way to grow mangroves to some extent under the social forestry programme.
Bringing back the lost mangroves is a painstaking process that is bound to take a long time requiring enough funds to be pumped in and manpower deployed.