Cyclone Sidr Impacts on the Sundarbans Floristic Diversity

  •  Avit Kumar Bhowmik    
  •  Pedro Cabral    


The Sundarbans - the world’s largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest situated at the southwest of Bangladesh, plays a vital role in maintaining environmental sustainability of the country and the world in general. This study identified and quantified the extent and degree of damage caused to the floristic diversity of the Sundarbans by the tropical cyclone Sidr in 15 November 2007. It also quantified the extent and rate of the post-cyclone regeneration in the damaged flora. Unsupervised classification - ISODATA and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) were carried out over a temporal series of 2007-2010 on four Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM +) images for the months of February. Land change analysis from the classification results show that three important floristic taxa - Heritiera fomes (Sundari), Excoecaria agallocha (Gewa) and Sonneratia apetala (Kewra) have been significantly affected by the cyclone. NDVI analysis indicates that 45% area of the Bangladesh’s part of the Sundarbans (approximately 2500 was affected due to the cyclone action. Results further indicated that the average rate of post-cyclone floristic growth in 2009-2010 is four times higher than the average rate in 2008-2009. Thus the study identified a temporary loss of the diversity (in terms of relative abundance) in the affected three floristic taxa of the Sundarbans after that severe exogenous perturbation; which took three years to regenerate. Moreover, it showed the higher efficiency and promptness of remote sensing techniques in similar cases than the ground data based studies.

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