mangrove vegetation along the 30,000 square kilometre coastline of Gujarat has reduced by 33.5 per cent in past two decades, reveals satellite data from the space application centre of the Indian Space and Research Organisation (isro) in Ahmedabad. Though the 1998 cyclone is cited as the main reason, human activities are also to be blamed. "Till a few years ago, there were 10 species of mangroves along the Gulf of Kachchh, but now there is only one," says Y D Singh, director of Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology, Bhuj. "A particular species of mangrove attracts and nourishes a particular type of marine fauna. With the decrease in mangrove species, marine diversity would also decrease," said Singh. The reasons for the destruction of mangrove are many. Gujarat being an arid area, most of the fuelwood and fodder demands are met through mangrove forests. In famine conditions, mangrove seeds are used for human consumption. The state government also plans to expand the Jakhau port. Experts feel that this will further denude the mangrove population.
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