VANISHING ISLANDS

by Sumit Dayal

Sundarbans

December 2008

Environmental portraits of inhabitants from Sundarbans: a UNESCO heritage site and the world’s largest mangrove ecosystem. Rising sea levels and accelerated coastline erosion have engulfed many islands and continue to force people to relocate further inland in this fragile coastal area. The effects of global warming are clearly visible, as the sea level in the Sundarbans has risen at an average rate of 3.14 centimeters a year over the past two decades – much higher than the global average of two millimeters a year. For people living in the Bengal basin region it’s nothing short of an ecologic disaster. In the last 25 years only, four islands have sunk into the sea, making 6,000 families homeless. Two other islands – Ghoramora and Mousuni – are fast going under. Sagar, the biggest island in the Sundarbans, has already lost 30 square kilometers. By 2020, it will have lost another 15 percent of its habitable area.

Text Line Wolf Nielson