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| Last Updated:: 05/11/2019

Key mangrove forest patch along Buckingham Canal set to be axed







A patch of mangrove forests along the Buckingham Canal, behind the Madras University campus, is on the verge of being completely destroyed. Shocked conservationists say the trees that can offset the ill-effects of cyclones and other natural calamities are, ironically, being uprooted as part of monsoon preparedness.





A senior public works department (PWD) official said about a km of the 7.1 km stretch had been cleared after apicture of the area was taken, but admitted that no experts were consulted before the work began. DNarasimhan, a professor of botany, said mangroves play a vital role in protecting surroundings during natural calamities such as cyclones and storms. The patch of mangroves along Buckingham Canal, close to the mouth of the Cooum river, should be protected and not cleared, he said.






The stretch along the canal behind Madras University was the only place in the city where grey mangroves (Avicennia marina) were in tree form, he said. In many other places including Ennore and Manali, because of the salinity levels, they were stunted. Another expert said mangroves within the limits of a city offer multiple ecosystem benefits, particularly in protecting against coastal erosion and inundation.





The patch behind the Madras University campus was treasured after a major chunk was lost to various memorials along Marina beach, he said. The wildlife that these mangroves harbour are also unique and add to the urban biodiversity. Destroying them will pose agreat threat to coastal ecosystems, he added. Narasimhan said PWD authorities should have discussed the plan with the experts concerned before taking up the cleaning work. The patch along Buckingham Canal that is being cleared is one of the oldest patches of mangroves in the city. Earlier they were found in the place behind Anna square and surrounding areas, he said.







Source: The Times of India, 05 November 2019, Chennai.