Home to over 4.5 million people and part of the largest halophytic mangrove forest in the world, the Indian Sunderbans is characterized by the breathtaking beauty and incredible biodiversity. Today this vital ecosystem is under threat from the relentless expansion of non-forest land use into mangrove forest areas, mostly for fishery and farming. This degradation is amplified by climate change, which brews near-constant cyclones and storms in the region—resulting in huge losses of forest cover. In November 2019, Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, survived the wrath of cyclone Bulbul thanks to the Sunderbans. And with 80% of the world’s fisheries depending upon mangroves, they aren’t just important to Indian coastal communities, they’re essential to local and global food security.
Our aim is to reforest up to 10,000 hectares of mudflats and deforested lands by planting1.5 million mangrove trees.This project will enhance biodiversity for marine life, establish ecosystem functions, limit coastal and island erosion, and shield vulnerable communities from high winds and waves. It will also help to protect the long-term livelihoods of local communities. And even better, it will help the region to address and adapt to climate change impacts like ongoing sea-level rise and a predicted increase in storms, wind, and cyclone intensity.
A personalized tree certificate to say thanks for your donation. We’ll also send you updates on our India projects, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
Planting efforts will mainly focus on the hardy Black Mangrove. At the upper sites, which are more soil-stabilized, Sonneratia apetala and other species will be planted. Both have lateral roots, which will help to lower tidal currents substantially. Some trees will be seeded directly, while others will be raised in nurseries until they are strong enough to withstand natural conditions. These seedlings and seeds, which drop from mature trees and flow along the tides from June-October, are collected by trained seed collectors and are uniquely able to tolerate the varying pressures of growing up in an intertidal zone.
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Mangroves grow along the coastlines of over 100 tropical and subtropical countries, but they’re disappearing fast—each year, approximately 1% of them are lost due to overfishing, land use changes, coastal development, and agriculture. According to the UN Environmental Programme, 25% of this loss can be attributed to shrimp farming. At this rate, mangroves could disappear completely by 2100—and that would be bad news, indeed.
The largest halophytic mangrove forest in the world, the Sunderbans, or “beautiful forest”, is a World Heritage Site shared by India and Bangladesh. The Indian part of the Sundarbans ecosystem consists of 102 islands—54 of which are inhabited. The inhabited islands are protected by a centuries-old system of ring embankments that extend over 3500 km.
Capable of sequestering 10x more carbon than terrestrial ecosystems, mangrove forests like the Sunderbans are at the frontline of climate change. But their contributions don’t stop there—they also provide vital habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species (including the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger), shield vulnerable coastal communities from the devastating effects of sea level rise and storm surges, and prevent erosion and coastal degradation by holding the soil in place via their intricate root systems.
Last year, we planted 100,000 mangrove trees in the Sundarbans of West Bengal, India. In 2020, we plan to multiply that number by 15, restoring 1.5 million mangroves to this vital ecosystem!
India lays claim to more than 7% of the world’s biodiversity on only 2.5% of the Earth’s surface. The Sunderbans provide critical habitat for species like shrimp, oysters, mussels, mudskippers, lemon sharks, manatees, cranes, eagles, monkeys, and the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger.
According to scientists, India has lost 40% of its natural forest cover in the last 95 years. Driven by mining, agriculture, fishery, and urbanization, this profound forest loss can be remedied by reforestation—which will improve the lives of the estimated 275 million Indians that depend on them.