Watch | The women saving the Sunderbans

A video on how the residents of the Sunderbans are trying to protect coastal communities from extreme climate events

November 20, 2021 10:32 am | Updated November 22, 2021 11:15 am IST

Sunderbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, is regularly battered by intense monsoon storms.

With India facing ever more powerful cyclones and extreme weather, women from the Sunderbans have taken up the task of protecting their coastal communities.

They are planting thousands of saplings to help buffer coastal communities from the cyclones that course through the area.

The women first rear the saplings at fresh water nurseries set up near their homes

Also read: Protecting the Sundarban wetlands

It takes around 45 days for the saplings to become strong enough to then be replanted in nearby rivers beds for another 15 to 20 days.

Once the saplings are strong, they are transplanted on to the banks to build the green embankments. The entire process takes around two to three months.

The mangrove takes about three to four years to grow into a tree.

This entire project is backed by a local non-profit and the West Bengal government.

It aims to plant around 10,000 mangrove saplings to help restore the loss caused by extreme climate events.

Also read: Cyclone-ravaged Sunderbans is now drowning in plastic

Mangroves protect coastlines from erosion and extreme weather events.

They improve water quality by filtering pollutants, and serve as nurseries for many marine creatures.

They can help fight climate change by sequestering millions of tons of carbon each year in their leaves, trunks, roots and the soil.

The Sunderbans covers a total area of roughly 10,000 square kilometers, about three-fifths of which is in Bangladesh.

Mangrove forests constitute about two-fifths of its overall surface area, with water covering roughly half of that area.

The Sundarbans is a refuge for a variety of animal species.

The Indian Sunderbans, which covers 4,200 sq kilometers, comprises of a world heritage site, the Sunderban Tiger Reserve of 2,585 sq km and a Ramsar Site.

While the tiger reserve is home to about 96 Royal Bengal Tigers as per last census in 2020, it is also home to 428 species of birds .

Experts emphasise that all the 54 inhabited islands of the Sunderbans need a disaster risk reduction plan .

The Sunderbans is home to a population of 5 million people, who are largely dependent on fisheries and aquaculture.

Any change in its delicate ecosystem can spell doom not only for the ecology but also to livelihoods.

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