Natural Vegetation of India - Mangrove Forests (Tidal Forest)

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Mangrove Forests (Tidal Forest):

Littoral or Tidal forests are one of the most specialized tropical natural vegetation types. India has a variety of wetland habitats. Wetlands are lands between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface of the land.

Mangrove Forests (Tidal Forest)

(a) Climatic Conditions: These forests thrive in regions where the temperature lasts between 26° and 29°C and where the annual rainfall does not exceed 200 cm.

(b) Distribution: These forests can be found along sea coasts, in river deltas, tidal or other swampy areas, wet marshy areas, and other wet areas. They are primarily distributed in the deltas of large rivers on the eastern coast, and they are also found in isolated areas on the western coast in the saline swamps of the Sunderbans in West Bengal, as well as coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

(c) Characteristic Features: 

  • They have mainly evergreen species that range in height and density and are typically connected to moisture.
  • The tree trunks are held up by a number of stilt-like roots that are visible during low tide and remain submerged during high tide.
  • They have profuse growth with a tangle of climbers, which is an adaptation for survival in soft and shifting mud.
  • These forests have breathing roots called pneumatophores. During high tides, the roots are deprived of oxygen due to waterlogged conditions. Mangrove roots can thus be seen rising vertically above the ground. When other roots are submerged underwater during high tide, these vertical roots with pores allow the trees to breathe.
  • The important trees include keora, amur, bhara, Rhizophora, screw pines, canes and palms, Sundari, agar, etc. 
  • Mangrove forests grow in salt marshes, tidal creeks, mud flats, and estuaries along the coasts. They can be found in West Bengal and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Other significant areas include the Mahanadi, Godavari, and Krishna deltas. 
  • These forests have Sundari trees, after the name of which these forests are known as 'Sunderbans' in the Ganga Delta. 
  • The Royal Bengal Tiger is the most well-known animal in these forests. These forests are also home to turtles, crocodiles, gharials, and snakes.

(d) Economical Value: Mangrove trees are used to make fuel, whereas Sundari trees provide hard, durable wood.

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