The 2004 Tsunami made people realize that mangroves can serve as a reliable safety hedge against coastal calamities. How do mangroves function as a safety hedge?
[UPSC Civil Services Exam – 2011 Prelims]
(a) The mangrove swamps separate the human settlements from the sea by a wide zone in which people neither live nor venture out.
(b) The mangroves provide both food and medicines which people are in need of after any natural disaster.
(c) The mangrove trees are tall with dense canopies and serve as an excellent shelter during a cyclone or Tsunami.
(d) The mangrove trees do not get uprooted by storms and tides because of their extensive roots.
- Vegetation Type:
- Mangroves are a unique type of vegetation found in the intertidal regions where freshwater and saltwater intermixes, such as bays, estuaries, creeks, and lagoons.
- Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants that can survive in harsh conditions.
- They have blind roots called Pneumatophores, which help them respire in anaerobic soils.
- The seeds of mangrove trees germinate in the trees themselves before falling, known as the Viviparity mode of reproduction.
- Ecological Significance:
- Mangroves represent the littoral forest ecosystem and are economically and ecologically significant.
- They greatly contribute to reducing the loss of life and property damage from storms and cyclones by reducing the impacts of waves, storm surges, and high winds.
- Mangroves function as a safety hedge as they do not get uprooted by storms and tides because of their extensive roots.
- They act as a natural barrier to storms and tsunamis by reducing the effects of wind and waves, and these dense roots help in binding and building soils.
- Geographical Importance:
- The mangrove forests of Sundarbans are the largest mangrove forests in the world.
- According to the Forest Survey of India, 2019, mangrove cover in the country increased by 54 sq km (91.10 per cent) in comparison to the 2017 assessment.
- Tsunamis and Mangroves:
- Tsunamis are caused by earthquakes and landslides disturbing large masses of water, resulting in rapidly traveling tsunami waves that can cause massive destruction and loss of life.
- Mangroves act as a natural barrier to tsunamis by reducing the effects of wind and waves, and these dense roots help in binding and building soils.
Therefore, option (d) is the correct answer.