Wetlands are supposed to be the most productive of all the ecosystems in the world. And mangroves top the list of productive wetlands — both in terms of direct and indirect benefits and economic value.

Yet, mangroves are disappearing from the face of earth at an alarming rate. And Kerala is no exception. “It’s a painful sight. The extent of the mangrove vegetation in the State has been reduced to around 4,500 hectares. Over the years, Kerala has lost around 80 per cent of its mangrove vegetation,” rues V.S. Vijayan, chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSSB).

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) had recently cautioned the world about the impacts of the loss of mangroves globally. According to an FAO communication, the “world has lost around 3.6 million hectares of mangroves since 1980, equivalent to an alarming 20 per cent loss.”

The KSSB’s recent survey of wetlands also covered the mangroves in the State. The board was of the view that there should be a Wetland Conservation Authority should be set up to protect the remaining wetlands, including mangroves, said Dr. Vijayan.

The State could not afford to lose any of the remaining forest and wetlands, he said.

K.S. Sudhi