Mumbai's Mangrove Clearing Ban Is Working - Could Be Saving City $52 Million Every Year

Sarah Jamerson/CC BY-SA 2.0

TreeHugger's written numerous times on the importance of mangrove forests both for carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat and coastal protection from both sea level rise and storms, as well as the fact that they are being cleared around the world at an alarming rate.

Well, Mumbai decided to do something about that six years ago, after the Bombay High Court ordered a ban on mangrove clearing, and the effort is paying off.

Times of India reports that Mumbai now has 5800 hectares (14,000+ acres) of protected mangrove forest within the city boundaries and in adjacent areas. Conservative estimates show slightly less than half of that amount is actually within the city itself.

The Maharashtra state government is now planning to designate 26,000 hectares (100 square miles) of coastal forest as protected.

Debi Goenka of the Bombay Environmental Action Group:

To a large extent, land-grabbing in mangrove areas by unscrupulous builders in the city has stopped. Earlier, though mangroves were under the purview of the Coastal Regulation Zone, the authorities were hardly bothered about protecting them. But the tag of forests has made it difficult for developers to obtain permission.

Globally, since 1980 about 20% of the world's remaining mangrove forests have been cleared for development, and 30-50% of them cleared in the previous 50 years.

In terms of ecosystem services they provide (that's the coastal protection, wildlife habitat, carbon storage stuff I mentioned above), mangroves can be valued at anywhere from $2000-9000 per hectare. That is, if we had to pay for building concrete coastal protection or sand berms to prevent storm surges, or had to store the carbon these forests store, or had to provide the income that these forests provide to people, it would cost $2000-9000 per hectare of forest every year—and these forests do it for free.

On the high end of the calculation, by preserving this amount on mangroves, Mumbai has saved itself over $52 million (Rs 2.7 billion) every year.

Tags: Deforestation | India