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Sunderban Biosphere Reserve, India

Sunderban is the largest delta and mangrove forest in the world. The Indian Sunderban is bound on the west by river Muriganga and on the east by rivers Harinbhahga and Raimangal. Other major rivers flowing through this eco-system are Saptamukhi, Thakuran, Matla and Goasaba.

Sunderban has extremely rich diversity of aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna. In fact, Sunderban's highly productive ecosystem acts as a natural fish nursery.

Although the region is situated south of the Tropic of Cancer, the temperature is equable due to its proximity to the sea. Average annual maximum temperature is around 35oC . Average annual rainfall is 1920 mm. 

Designation date: 2001


Regional network:  SACAM

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 963,000 ha

    • Core area(s): 169,200 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 223,300 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 570,500 ha

    Location: N/A

    Administrative Authorities

    Director, Sunderban Biosphere Reserve, Govt. of West Bengal
    Bikash Bhawan, 3rd floor, North Block
    Salt Lake, Kolkata - 700091
    West Bengal, India

    Tel.: +91 33-2321 1750/1529

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    Ecological Characteristics

    The Biogeography of Sunderban is unique and the region harbours a rich diversity in terms of species content, ecosystem and habitat types. This deltic ecosystem, which is the single largest continuous area in the world for threatened Bengal Tiger and largest contiguous mangrove-patch on globe (along with Bangladesh), is very productive and well known for its greater degree or specialization. Sunderban is the larges mangal diversity of the planet (81 plant and 1586 animal species.) 

    This biosphere reserve is located in the vast Delta of the Ganges, south of Calcutta and bordering Bangladesh in the east.  It represents the largest mangal diversity in the world with 81 mangal plant species and it provides habitat for the threatened Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). The core area (Sunderban National Park) has been designated as a World Heritage site. The entire Eastern India is dependent on the fishery resources from Sunderban.

    More than 40 species of mammals, 163 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, 165 species of fish, 23 species of molluscs, 15 species of prawns, 67 species of crabs have so far been reported in SBR, such as the hawk eagle (Nisaetus Sps.) and the south-water crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).


    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    Some three million people live in the biosphere reserve (2001). They depend directly on forest and forest-based resources since agriculture is not productive enough due to saline water. Sales of timber, fuel wood, thatching leaves, honey and wax are the main sources of income. Due to demographic pressures, the Sunderban is under great stress and therefore an eco-development programme is envisaged based on a highly participative approach of the local communities. Emphasis is given to schemes that generate additional income and economic security to people, such as mangrove forest management, animal husbandry, popularisation of energy alternatives, habitat improvement, aquaculture, honey and wax culture, development of crafts and education.





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    Last updated: October 2018