, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 217-234

Forest structure of arid zone mangroves in relation to their physical and chemical environment in the western Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat, Northwest coast of India

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Abstract

To understand natural and anthropic control of mangrove vegetation in the Gulf of Kachchh, a study was undertaken of its vegetation structure. Over 2 years (1999–2000) at three sites, mangrove vegetation was studied, including tree density, tree height, tree girth at breast height (GBH), canopy index, regeneration class and recruitment class, together with physico-chemical characteristics of water and sediment and the textural aspects of sediments. Reflecting the hot, arid hinterland of Gujarat, ambient temperatures and salinities are high in this macrotidal estuary, decreasing somewhat during the monsoon. The littoral soil supporting the mangrove is abundant in silty loam, silty clay and slity clay loam. The density of mature trees (Mangrove plants of GBH > 25 cm) ranged from 2088/ha to 3011/ha, the height of the trees ranged from 1.42 m to 9 m and the maximum mean GBH at all three sites was 33 cm, and the mean canopy indices ranged between 4.77 m2 and 10.45 m2. The maximum density of regeneration stages was 100,800/ha while that of recruitment stages was only 3,040/ha. While quite severely impacted by anthropic exploitation at one site, the mangrove ecosystem of Gulf of Kachchh was found to be mainly healthy and supporting associated organisms. The ecological and social role of the mangrove, and the potential for its future conservation are briefly discussed in the light of current legislation.