Post tsunami satellite mapping study reveals forest cover change in Andaman and...

Post tsunami satellite mapping study reveals forest cover change in Andaman and Nicobar islands

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The damage from last December’s tsunami has been counted in the Andaman and Nicobar islands and it is huge. The islands’ forest cover has taken a big hit, marine life has been badly affected and some famous beaches have vanished. India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests report says the tsunami has badly devastated the islands’ ecosystem. Conducted post-tsunami by ISRO through satellite mapping and released recently, the study found forest depletion of up to 27 per cent in islands like Nancowry and Trinkat. In the Nicobar group of islands, 12,224 hectares of forest cover was lost. Comorta, Nancowry and Katchal saw major coral reef erosion. The report says in some places the entire coral reef area suffered. Satellite images showed that the mangrove trees facing the waves were the worst hit. Extensive areas have turned barren or have been totally eroded in the tsunami’s wake. Some major beaches — big tourist attractions — have almost disappeared. The Noncowry and Trinkat beaches in the Nicobar group of islands have vanished. What remains are just barren rocks. Officials say it will take years for new beaches to be carved out from the sea. Marine life, too, has been hit hard. The nesting beaches in the Nicobar group of islands have almost vanished as the islands have gone under the sea by one to three metres.