• Recently recognized with the UNESCO Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management 2023, the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust has introduced the concept of ‘plastic checkpoints.
  • Community members check all vehicles and tourists for plastic waste, which is collected, recycled and used for the construction of roads.
  • In times of global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable development, the role of biosphere reserves becomes even more important.
  • Despite these sites being the most vital ecosystems protecting nature, these oases are not without threats such as deforestation, invasive species and land use changes such as mining. With increasing urbanisation and constant growth of the world population, exploitation by humans is ever increasing.

Biosphere reserves

  • Biosphere reserves are vital for the future of our planet. They are a living testament to the resilience of nature, that even amidst human activity, finds a way to flourish.
  • They are home to a wide variety of ecosystems — from tropical rainforests to alpine deserts, and thereby provide home to countless unique and endangered plants and animals species.
  • In addition to playing a vital role in the protection of biodiversity and ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources, they also provide opportunities for sustainable economic development.
  • In recent years, biosphere reserves have become crucial in our fight against climate change, as these areas are home to many of the world’s carbon sinks helping to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Carbon sinks, like forests and the ocean, provide solutions in implementing adaptation strategies to fight climate change.

Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve

  • The Gulf of Mannar endowed with three distinct Coastal ecosystems namely coral reef, seagrass bed and mangroves is considered one of the world’s richest region from a marine biodiversity perspective, is known for its unique biological wealth and is a store house of marine diversity of global significance.
  • The Gulf’s 4,223 species of plants and animals representing from primitive to higher forms make it one of the richest coastal regions in India.
  • Most of the islands have luxuriant growth of mangroves on their shorelines and swampy regions.
  • The sea bottom of the inshore area around the islands are carpeted with seagrass beds which serve as ideal feeding ground for Dugong dugon, the endangered herbivorous marine mammal.
  • Highly productive fringing and patch coral reefs surround the islands and are often referred to as underwater tropical rainforest and treasure house for marine biodiversity, in particular marine ornamental fishes.
  • Occurrence of these specialized ecosystems makes Gulf of Mannar an unique large marine ecosystem in the Indian subcontinent

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