In our effort to make space for infrastructural developments, India's green cover is declining at an alarming rate. The overall mangrove cover in the country stands at 4,740 sq. km., which is 0.14 sq. km of India’s overall geographical area.
Mangroves provide the ideal space for breeding and nursing commercial fisheries. With their dense and spongy roots, these mangroves are the natural defence against storms and flooding. They also bind the soil together so the soil doesn't erode. In addition to that, by being a huge storage of carbon, mangroves significantly help reduce global warming. Thus, mangroves provide a plethora of ecological benefits ranging from providing food, fuel and recreation to contributing to fisheries, protection from disasters and aiding in climate control through carbon sequestration.
India has a coastline of roughly 7516.6 km across its 13 states and union territories. Increasing human population in coastal areas is resulting in increased pressure on mangrove ecosystems. Regardless of their indispensability, mangroves are being compromised for the sake of development.
If we were to build an infrastructure that boosts the economy, protects our lands from calamities and gives assured returns while reducing global warming, growing mangroves is the best bet. Take Gujarat for instance. With a massive plantation and restoration drive, the state of Gujarat has more than doubled its mangroves cover through reforestation and regeneration over mudflats. The planted mangroves have contributed to fisheries, biodiversity and also to other ecosystem services that depend on it for survival. These mangroves now provide benefits worth Rs 95.5 million annually. At this rate, the state’s investment in mangrove plantation and restoration would be recovered within 15 years to further yield profits for the state.
Mangrove restoration is certainly a long-term ecological investment. Urgent actions need to be taken to not only conserve what we already have but to regenerate what we have lost to development. To invest in these assets is essential for our survival and that of our future generations.
‘Lets Invest in Nature’ (#LetsInvestInNature) is a special series of video stories designed by the Indo-German Biodiversity Programme. It is dedicated to estimating and mainstreaming the true economic value of biodiversity in business-related decisions and policy making. Watch this short video for more information.