Society

Chennai’s mangroves at risk, say experts

In Chennai, the trees are found along the perimeter of Theosophical Society, in a fragmented patch around islands on Adyar River (above), and at the junction of South Buckingham canal and Cooum river. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan  

Stretches of mangroves along the Chennai coast are facing the threat of extinction due to pollution and overgrowth of invasive tree species, researchers caution. 

In Chennai, the trees, which offer protection from calamities such as tsunamis, cyclones and hurricanes, are found along the perimeter of Theosophical Society, in a fragmented patch around islands on Adyar river, and at the junction of South Buckingham canal and Cooum river (behind the Madras University campus). They are also found in Ennore and Muttukkadu, say researchers. 

K. Ilangovan, a researcher on mangroves, said two species are found in the Adyar river, one in the Cooum and Muttukkadu, and three in the Ennore area. The mangroves in all these areas, which are now in a degraded condition, may have thrived on the coastline half a century ago, he observed.

One of the mangrove species, Avicennia marina, is an exception, which can withstand high pollution levels, said Dr. Ilangovan.

It can tolerate maximum salinity levels in water, and nutrient pollutions. This is one of the most dominant species in the world, which helps create a suitable environment for the regeneration of other mangrove species, he said. 

Manifold threats

The first and foremost threat to mangroves, said Dr. Ilangovan, is encroachment by karuvelam, an alien species. Pollution of water bodies, human interference, silting operations in the rivers that restrict tidal flow, and landscape changes are some of the other threats they face, he said.

R. Pauline Deborah, assistant professor, department of plant biology, Women’s Christian College, said the scattered mangrove patches along the water bodies in the city were degraded due to domination of invasive species in the rivers.

Dr. Ilangovan said protecting mangroves would directly help ensure marine food security. They also protect and improve the ecosystem and, thereby, support associated ecological linkages, he added.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 3:25:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chen-society/chennais-mangroves-at-risk-say-experts/article6380576.ece

Next Story