Sundarban Biosphere Reserve


Sundarban is the largest delta in the world and consists of 10,200 km2 of mangrove forest, spread over India (4200 km2) and Bangladesh (approx. 6000 km2). Named after the mangrove plant Sundari (Heritiera minor), it is located in over South Parganas district of West Bengal in India and the Khulna and Backarganj districts in Bangladesh. Sunderban Biosphere Reserve (21°10’46” N, 88°58’21”E) includes Sunderban Tiger Reserve, Sunderban National Park (core area), Halliday Island and Lothian Island Wildlife Sanctuaries with Sajnakhali Wildlife Sanctuary forming its buffer area. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, an ‘Important Bird Area’ and a proposed Ramsar Site. The mangroves reduce the fury of cyclonic storm and prevent coastal erosion caused by tidal action.

Champion (1936) classified the vegetation of the area as moist tropical seral forest with beach and tidal forests. Sundarban has extremely rich diversity of aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna. Over 200 species of birds have been reported from the area including the rare and elusive Masked finfoot (Heliopais personatus). Sunderban also has the largest population of Estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). The mangrove forests of Sundarban are home to Tiger (Panthera tigris), with perhaps the largest tiger population in the world.

Millions of people depend on the Sundarban ecosystem for their livelihood and sustenance through fishing, collection of honey and fuelwood/timber. With increasing human population and development, the area faces many anthropogenic threats including illegal fishing, cutting of mangroves, poaching and encroachment. Unmanaged tourism also threatens the sensitive ecology of Sunderban.

 Sundarban Biosphere Reserve  Sundarban Biosphere Reserve  Sundarban Biosphere Reserve

Sundarban Biosphere Reserve
©Niladri Dasgupta


  • Islam, M.Z. and Rahmani, A.R (2004) Important Bird Areas in India: Priority sites for conservation. Indian Bird conservation network: Bombay History Society and Birdlife International (UK).Pp.xviii+1133.
  • Champion, H.G. (1936) A preliminary survey of the forest type of India and Burma. Indian Forest Records (New Series) 1;1-286.