University of Moratuwa, Katubedda, Sri Lanka.

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International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem

International Day of the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem is sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The aim is “to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems as a unique, special and vulnerable ecosystem and to promote solutions for their sustainable management, conservation and uses”.

Kadolana, or Mangrove forests are a type of ecosystem typically found in tropical and subtropical intertidal zone. These forests grow as a dense thicket and they consist a type of trees and shrubs called halophytes. They can withstand the harsh coastal conditions such as waterlogged and anoxic soil, high concentration of salt etc.

The slow moving water through the tangle of prop roots, accumulates the sediments forming a muddy bottom. These sturdy root systems are a major component of the ecosystem. They help in handling the daily rises and falls of the tides as well as stabilizing the shoreline by reducing the erosion protecting the land from waves and storms.

Mangrove forests occupy less than 1% of the tropical forests in the world, which is less than 0.4% of the total forest area. But these are rich in both marine and forest food web diversity. A huge number of different living organisms find food and accommodation among these roots. This is an essential habitat in the coastal zone and these areas act as a breeding ground for many sea creatures including most of the commercially caught fish. The diversity does not stop at these precious roots. Many insect species reside in these vegetation providing a food source for numerous migratory and shoreline bird species.

The formation and the location of these ecosystems reduces the amount of sea water encroaching the inland waters. These are efficient in filtering nitrates and phosphates carried out to the sea along with silt. Silt deposition can smother coral reef ecosystems. The coexistence of the mangroves, Seagrass beds and the coral reefs ensure a healthy coastline. Mangroves does not provide only ecological benefits. Communities utilize these ecosystems to benefit economically as well. Fisheries, other food products and eco-tourism are some common methods.

Penned By : Rtr. Kawmini Wijekoon

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