ENRICHMENT OF MANGROVE ECOSYSTEMS THROUGH Kandelia candel (L.) DRUCE SPECIES IN THE SUNDARBAN MANGROVE FOREST OF BANGLADESH
Kandelia candel (L.) Druce play an important role in creating habitats for a diverse community of organisms ranging from bacteria and fungi to fishes and mammals. A field experiment was conducted to enrich mangrove ecosystems through establishment and conservation of the mangrove species K. candel (L.) Druce in the moderate saline zone of the Sundarban in Bangladesh during the period of 2012 to 2017. Assessing the performance of K. candel plantations were done annually by monitoring the survival rate and one or more structural characteristics of the stand, including height (H), diameter at breast height (DBH) and mean annual increment (MAI). The height (m), DBH (cm), MAI (m) and survival (%) of K. candel trees differ significantly at different spacing. The highest height (m), dbh (cm) and survival (%) have been found 2.99m±0.09, 3.83cm±0.10 and 90%, respectively in the spacing 2m x 2m as well as the highest mean annual increment (MAI) for height 0.60 m and for dbh 0.77 cm were found in the same spacing. The calculated values were F.05 (2) = 64.60 which was highly significant at the 5% level, LSD = 0.23for height and F.05 (2) = 40.71, LSD = 0.25 for DBH. There were significant differences in the mean total height (m) and mean DBH (cm) among the spacing 2m x 2m, 1.5m x 1.5m and 1m x 1m. On the other hand coefficient of variation (CV) at different spacing was found 9.36, 11.54 and 13.64 for height and 8.62, 4.17 and 10.79 for DBH. All these findings reflect that growth performance of K. candel species was better on 2m x 2m compared to 1.5m x 1.5m and 1m x 1m spacing. Artificial regenerations of K. candel species can improve degraded habitats to facilitate recolonization by native mangrove species. To ensure sustainability of mangroves in the Sundarban, it is necessary to protect all the existing mangrove wetlands under in situ conservation by setting up natural reserves and excluding further anthropogenic destruction as well as developing a long-term scientific program.