mangrove forests get a facelift
OMAN has embarked upon a long-term ambitious plan to
enhance its existing mangrove forests and to create new forests
along the vast 1,700-km long coastline, where dens of mangrove
forests existed in the past.
Mangroves, the evergreen trees that grow in salty water of
tidal zones, are not only beautiful to look at but also a source
of innumerable benefits.
remarkably harsh and saline conditions, the hardy mangrove tree
transforms the environment into a green and productive area. Equipped
with special salt glands, leaves of the mangrove trees easily
get rid of excess salt.
view of natural mangrove
in Mahout Island
Molluscs, crabs and a great variety of fishes abound in the numerous
Omani creeks, channels, and mudflats associated with mangrove
habitat where they shelter among the roots and feed on leaf detritus.
is treating Khawrs (saline creeks) and mangroves as special environments
because they can be productive and valuable fish breeding and
nursery areas, in addition to their unparalleled beauty for recreation.
Since mangroves hold out a special role in coastal
environments, the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Environment
(MRME) has launched an extensive mangrove afforestation.
programme, launched recently, is among the most important environmental
projects of this year and will cover more than 300 Khawrs along
the vast coastline of the Sultanate.
of the site for the construction
of the nursery in Qurum Reserve, 30 July, 2000
A mangrove nursery established in Qurum Public Park and Nature
Reserve last year has begun to yield good results now. The nursery,
set up by the MRME in a friendly tie-up with Japan International
Co-operation Agency (Jica), provided 11,000 mangrove seedlings
seedlings, transplanted in Khawr Sawadi in February, are showing
robust growth, according to Shoji Tomoo, a Jica expert overseeing
the project. Considering a survival rate of 60 per cent, about seven thousand
mangrove trees are expected to grow fully in Khawr Sawadi, he
forests are boon to coastal areas because they can protect the
shores against erosion and juvenile fisheries get protection in
seeds in Qurum Reserve, 2 August, 2000
Other areas identified for immediate transplantation of mangroves
include Batinah, Bandar Khayran, Shinas, Barka, Sur, Ras Al Hadd,
Salalah and surroundings of Mahout Island.
most suitable sites for mangrove afforestation are the inlets
in the above regions as they are protected against wave actions
and provide shallow sea.
Aimed at restoring the entire coastal area to
its pristine beauty of dense mangrove forests, the mangrove afforestation
programme assumes special significance in this "Year of the
Environment" in Oman.
and archaeological evidences indicate that dense mangrove woodlands
covered much of Oman's coastline and islands in ancient times,
says Eng Mussallam Mubarak Al Jabri, head of Marine Pollution
and Coastal Zone Management department at the MRME.
of seedlings, 25 September, 2000
of the most dense and beautiful mangrove forests of the Sultanate
are found in Qurum Reserve and Mahout Island. The Qurum Reserve
contains an important site where pre-historic fishermen exploited
the mangrove resources more than 7,000 years ago.
average tree height in the reserve varies between 2.0 and 5.3
metres and in Mahout between 1.7 to 8 metre, and 2.8 and 6.5 metres
in Shinas. The flat sandy island of Mahout, located
about 400 km south of Muscat, is significant not only because
of its luxuriant development of mangroves but also the Sultanate's
shrimp fishery centre exists in this area.
in the Qurum Reserve and Mahout are nursery grounds for juveniles
of many commercial fish, including mullet, milkfish, croakers,
snappers, cragnids and seabream, according to studies conducted
by environmental experts of MRME.
whole view of the nursery, 9 November, 2000
"Rehabilitating one Khawr means you are creating a new environment.
Once mangrove forestation is established, it attracts fish, birds,
and wild animals", says Mussallam.
Mussallam, "the mangrove forest plays many roles such as
coastal stabiliser, dispersant of energy of storms, tidal bores
and wind, barrier to invasion of inland area by salt water, producer
of nutrients and forest resources such as fuel, charcoal, fodder,
timber and a wide variety of animal species. It is also a convenient
nursery area for fish, shrimp, and crabs".
Shoji said illegal fishing in the Qurum Reserve
was posing a danger. Mangrove trees nurture the juvenile fish.
such small aquatic fauna is a loss to the fishermen because after
growing up these fish ultimately go in the sea and ultimately
fishermen benefit. Fishing activity is banned in the Reserve,
but needs to be enforced effectively," he said.
transplanting in Khawr Sawadi, 24 February, 2001
Of the 45 mangrove species in the world, the most commonly found
species in Oman is that of Avicennia Marina. It is also the main
mangrove species growing in the coasts of the Arabian Gulf and
of the Red Sea. Growing to a height of five to eight metres, mangroves
are among the most productive ecosystems in the world.
Adapted from Oman Observer. Nizwa.NET is not responsible for errors.