Mangrove trees serve as the first line of defense against flooding and erosion in tropical and subtropical regions. Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Pakistan Navy

Islamabad: Pakistan Navy launched its annual mangroves plantation campaign in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan provinces to strengthen natural defense systems against flooding, storms and coastal erosion.

Recognizing the role of mangroves in protecting coasts against natural hazards, combating pollution, countering coastal erosion and offering multiple economic and financial opportunities to coastal communities, Pakistan Navy has taken a major initiative to revive mangrove forests all along the coast.

The mangroves plantation campaign 2021 is part of PN environmental protection program under which the navy has planted 7 million mangroves from Shah Bandar to Jiwani with the collaboration of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sindh and Balochistan Forest departments. Commander Coast Vice Admiral Zahid Ilyas inaugurated the 2021 mangroves plantation campaign by planting mangrove sapling at Port Bin Qasim.

Pakistan Chief of Naval Staff Amjad Khan Niazi, in his message, said that the plantation is aimed at achieving the goal of developing ‘Green Coastal Belt’ as covered area of mangroves forests has decreased significantly over the period due various factors such as reduction in freshwater supply, marine pollution, coastal erosion, mangroves cutting.

He urged for new plantation as well as preservation of existing mangroves forests to reduce the risk of local and national disasters through better flood management and protection, and lessen the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels.

Natural coastal defence

Mangroves – the large trees that grow quickly in saltwater at the edge of the coastal zone serve as the first line of defense against flooding and erosion in tropical and subtropical regions.

The salt-tolerant mangroves are among the most valuable ecosystems and play a key role in the resilience of coastal communities. These trees protect over 100 million people living in fragile coastal zones by reducing the risk of flooding, according to UN estimates.

Mangrove trees form a natural barrier against violent storms, floods and tsunami. The aerial roots help prevent erosion, while the roots, trunks and canopy reduce the force of waves and storm surges thus preventing flooding and protecting people, infrastructure and livelihoods.

These trees offer the most cost-efficient coastal protection. However, mangroves need to be combined with other risk reduction measures to achieve an optimal level of protection and risk reduction in coastal areas.