Gujarat’s mangrove forest cover has risen sharply in over 55 sq km area during the last two years as per the data of Forest Survey of India (FSI), thanks to Gujarat forest department efforts of its plantation to save the coastal erosion.

FSI data of 2007 released recently, shows that the total increase in mangroves forest cover in India was 58 sq kms out of which Gujarat’s contribution is 55 sq km.

Increase in mangrove forest cover is quiet a turnaround for Gujarat where the cover was depleting in the later parts of 1990s.

The FSI said, of the 4,639 sq km area of mangrove plantation in the country, Gujarat covered 1,046 sq km in 2007 in comparison of 991 sq kms in 2005.

The report stated that Gujarat showed an increase in mangrove forest cover mainly because of plantation and protection measures taken by the state.

“We have made special efforts for protection and plantation of mangroves in the state due to which the mangrove forest cover has risen,” Principal Secretary Forest and environment department of the state S K Nanda told PTI.

“This data is up to the year 2007. In the year 2008 and 2009, we have added another 30 sq kms areas of mangrove forest cover to protect the sand erosion at the coast,” Mr. Nanda added.

Another forest department official said that the mangrove is very important for the overall protection of the ecosystem in coastal areas and also provides valuable protection to marine animals and birds.

“Taking these things into consideration, the state government has undertaken a ten year’s project of mangrove plantation under Gujarat Forestry Development Project,” the official added.

According to FSI data, the maximum increase in mangrove plantation was in Ahmedabad and Kutch districts which recorded an increase of 18 sq km each.

Jamnagar recorded an increase of 7 sq km, followed by 5 sq km in Bharuch. Other districts which recorded increase were Anand (3 sq km) and Vadodara (4 sq km).

However, according to the FSI report, the overall forest cover in Gujarat has decreased by 532 sq km between 2001 and 2007.

In 2001, the forest cover in Gujarat was 15,152 sq km, which came to 7.73 per cent of the state’s geographical area.

According to FSI 2009, the forest cover in Gujarat has come down to 14,620 sq km, 7.46 per cent of state’s geographical area, showing a decrease of 0.27 per cent (532 sq km).