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Threats to the Sundarbans Mangrove Wetland Ecosystems from Transboundary Water Allocation in the Ganges Basin: A Preliminary Problem Analysis

M. Shafi N. Islam, Albrecht Gnauck

Abstract


Through their complex network of river channels, the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers cover an area of about 1.76 million km2, their boundaries extend across different countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, and Nepal. The Sundarbans are found at the coast of the Ganges River and are known as the world’s single largest mangrove forest with 3.5 percent of the world’s mangroves covering an area of 6017 km2. The Sundarbans wetlands act as a natural shield that protects the coastal area from storm surges and cyclones in pre and post monsoon periods. However, due to increased in irrigation of agriculture, industrial activity and the diversion of Ganges water at Farakka Barrage (India) in early 1975, both siltation and salinity have increased in the Sundarbans which is threatening the Sundarbans ecosystems. Consequently the dominant Sundari (Heritiera fomes) and Goran (Ceriops decendra) are affected by top-dying disease which is recognized as a key management concern. The Ganges water sharing is not just a geo-techno-political problem; it is also a humanitarian problem. So, interaction and educational awareness between concerned states are of great significant. The objective of this paper is to make a contribution towards the development and implementation of management plan for mangrove wetlands resources and to ensure that fresh water is supplied to the Sundarbans by the Ganges. Water salinity simulation and modeling would be a proper tool for decision making and allow planners to protect the Sundarbans ecosystems in future.

Keywords


Sundarbans, Mangroves, Wetlands, Ganges River, Ecosystem, Water salinity.

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