Institute of Mangroves to be set up in West Bengal

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Bangalore, Feb 7 (UNI) The Environment and Forests Ministry has decided to set up an Institute of Mangroves and Bio-diversity in West Bengal, its Director J R Bhatt said today.

Speaking at the two-day national workshop on 'Mangroves in India, Biodiversity, Protection and Environmental Services' at the Institute of Wood Science and Technology here, he said the Mangrove Institute, first of its kind in the country, would be established near Sundarban forests.

Stating that the Ministry was working out the modalities to start the Institute soon, Mr Bhatt said it had identified 38 sites for Mangrove cultivation.

Karnataka Forest Industries Commission Managing Director P J Dili Kumar, in his address called for involvement of locals in Mangrove cultivation.

''Unless we involve local stakeholders we cannot achieve the desired result of a project,'' he noted.

He said in the name of development and political pressure many forest lands have been acquired for setting up industries without thinking about the danger of forest degradation.

Institute of Wood Science and Technology (IWST) Director Suresh Gairola said Mangroves in India, which account for about five per cent of the world's Mangroves were spread over an area of 4461 sq km along the coast of 12 state's and Union Territories.

He said West Bengal accounted for 46 per cent of Mangroves in the country followed by Gujarat, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Maharashtra.

According to Forest Survey of India, the mangrove cultivation area had increased by 415 sq km from 1987 to 2003. About 36 per cent of these were classified as open mangroves with less than 40 per cent canopy density.

''Over-harvesting, dredging and reclamation for development, coastal acquaculture and agriculture, hydrological modifications, pollution and oil spills, were some of the reasons for largescale destruction of mangroves,'' he added.

UNI MSP ROY SY GC1558

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