ZSI monitoring climate change impact on Sundarban animals

To measure the effect of climate change on the flora and fauna of Sundarbans, the Zoological Survey of India has set up monitoring bases inside the mangrove forests.

PTI| Last Updated: Jul 02, 2015, 12:12 PM IST

Kolkata: To measure the effect of climate change on the flora and fauna of Sundarbans, the Zoological Survey of India has set up monitoring bases inside the mangrove forests.

There are 25 plots in the five islands of Bali, Gosaba, Basanti, Sagar and Satjelia where the bases have been set up to measure the diversity and population index of mangroves, crabs and snails.

"Any change in their population will reveal how climate change is affecting the islands. We will know to what extent the biodiversity is getting affected due to change in the water salinity level and other factors," project in-charge scientist Bulganin Mitra told PTI.

The monitoring process is an ongoing one and experts are sent to the spot to collect data about their population and species.

"We will also take photographs and prepare a GPS map of their habitat. We will prepare a baseline data of biodiversity. As time passes by we will be able to know whether there is any change in the flora and fauna of the region or not," he said.

The monitoring bases have so far been established in the buffer zone of the mangrove forest. They have taken permission from the state Forest Department to start more such centres inside the core area of the tiger reserve.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Sundarbans is an archipelago of more than a hundred islands, famous for its mangrove forests and several endangered species like the Royal Bengal Tiger, Ganges and Irawadi dolphins.

The islands are hit hard by constant land erosion and salinity due to rising sea levels.

The ZSI is monitoring the impact on animals while the Botanical Survey of India will monitor the flora.

Under a project funded by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, they have also started monitoring insect pollination on eight major mangrove species of the region.

As a result of various factors including the use of chemical pesticides, climate change, pollution, etc, the number of pollinators has been on a decline in many parts of the world. A number of fruits, nuts and vegetables are pollinated by bees.

"Pollination by insects like bees, beetles, butterflies, moths, etc are taking place, but we do not know who are the biggest pollinators. They are helping us in conserving our plant species," Mitra said.

Conservation of pollinators is important from the view point of food security and protection of our forests.

Officials said it is a three-year monitoring project which will help them prepare a database of insect pollination in the mangroves of Sundarbans.