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Valuing ecosystem functions: an empirical study on the storm progtection function of Bhitarkanika mangrove ecosystem, India

Environmental Conservation 32 (1): 85–92 © 2005 Foundation for Environmental Conservation            doi:10.1017/S0376892905001967

Valuing ecosystem functions: an empirical study on the storm protection
function of Bhitarkanika mangrove ecosystem, India
Wildlife Institute of India, Post Box # 18, Dehra Dun, 248001, India
Date submitted: 8 September 2004 Date accepted: 21 February 2005

                                       welfare (de Groot 1992; Ehrlich & Ehrlich 1992; Barbier
                                       et al. 1994; Costanza et al. 1997a; de Groot et al. 2002).
The ecosystem services provided by mangroves are
                                       Biodiversity at genetic, species, population and ecosystem
often ignored in the ongoing process of mangrove
                                       levels contributes to maintaining these functions and services.
conversion. Services provided by the Bhitarkanika
                                       Mangrove ecosystems are widely recognized as providers of
mangrove ecosystem in India and estimated cyclone
                                       a great variety of goods and services to people, providing
damage avoided in three selected villages, taking the
                                       optimal breeding, feeding and nursery grounds for many
cyclone of 1999 as a reference point, were valued by
                                       ecologically and economically important fish and shellfish
assessing the socio-economic status of the villages,
                                       species (Macnae 1974), as well as feeding habitats for resident
the cyclone damage to houses, livestock, fisheries,
                                       and migrant water birds. They are valuable sources of fuel
trees and other assets owned by the people, and the
                                       wood, fodder, timber, tannin and other natural products
level and duration of flooding. Eleven variables were
                                       for local people (Rasolofo 1997; Spaninks & van Beukering
used to compare damage in the villages, one protected
                                       1997). Mangrove forests protect freshwater resources against
by mangroves, one unprotected by mangroves, and
                                       saltwater intrusion; they protect the land from eroding waves
the third possessing an embankment on its seaward
                                       and winds (Semesi 1998) and stabilize the coastal land (Carlton
side. Attitude surveys were carried out in 10% of the
                                       1974). Mangrove forests can be considered as natural barriers
households in 35 villages located in the Bhitarkanika
                                       protecting the life and property of coastal communities from
Conservation Area to assess local people’s perceptions
                                       storms and cyclones. The above-ground root system retards
regarding the storm protection function of mangroves
                                       water flow that not only encourages sediment to settle,
and their attitude towards mangrove forests generally.
                                       but also inhibits its resuspension (Gilbert & Janssen 1998).
In the mangrove-protected village, variables had either
                                       Stabilization of sediments provides protection to shorelines
the lowest values for adverse factors (such as damage
                                       and associated shore-based activities and can lead to land gains
to houses), or the highest values for positive factors
                                       (Spaninks & van Beukering 1997).
(such as crop yield). The loss incurred per household
                                        Despite centuries of biological research on mangrove
was greatest (US$ 153.74) in the village that was not
                                       structure, productivity and ecosystem dynamics (Rollet 1981)
sheltered by mangroves but had an embankment,
                                       and an understanding and recognition of mangrove benefits
followed by the village that was neither in the shadow
                                       by scientists, governments and local populations, destruction
of mangroves or the embankment (US$ 44.02) and the
                                       of mangrove ecosystems continues (Saenger et al. 1983;
village that was protected by mangrove forests (US$
                                       Field et al. 1998; Semesi 1998). The ecosystem services
33.31). The local people were aware of and appreciated
                                       provided by mangroves are often ignored in the ongoing
the functions performed by the mangrove forests in
                                       process of mangrove conversion (Barbier 1993; Ruitenbeek
protecting their lives and property from cyclones, and
                                       1994; Swallow 1994). The economic value of direct products
were willing to cooperate with the forest department
                                       from mangrove forests proves more important in decision
in mangrove restoration.
                                       making for their management as these usually accrue locally
                                       (Adger et al. 1997). Hence, the exploitation of mangroves
Keywords: attitudes, economic valuation, ecosystem services,
                                       usually focuses only on single uses based on narrow economic
local people, mangrove ecosystem, storm protection function
                                       valuations. For mangrove conservation and exploitation
                                       to occur simultaneously, economic analyses that focus on
                                       multiple-use aspects of mangroves are needed (Ruitenbeek
                                       1994). Appropriate values for ecosystem services once derived
Ecosystem functions are the conditions and processes through
                                       may be inserted into the decision-making process in order to
which natural ecosystems and their constituent species sustain
                                       correct the market signals (Costanza et al. 1989).
and fulfil human life (Daily 1997). Ecological services are those
                                        Economic valuation is an attempt to assign quantitative
ecosystem functions that are perceived to support human
                                       values to the goods and services provided by natural resources
                                       where market prices are not available, and thus help to
                                       inform decisions regarding resource allocation (Barbier et al.
* Correspondence: Dr Ruchi Badola Tel: +91 135 2640112 Fax: +91
                                       1997; Daily et al. 1997). In the field of protected area
135 2640117 e-mail:
86   R. Badola and S.A. Hussain

Figure 1 Kendarapara and
Bhadrak districts of Orissa, India,
showing the location of
Bhitarkanika Conservation Area
and the extent of mangrove forests.

management, economic valuation can be useful to indicate the   heronries and an important refuge for migratory waterfowl
real opportunity cost of alternative uses of natural resources  (Nayak 2002), besides being rich in fishery-target fish and
(Richards 1994). The estimated economic value of mangrove    shellfish (Chadah & Kar 1999). The mangrove and associated
forests ranges between US$ 9900–US$ 35 921 per hectare (see   forests help meet subsistence requirements for timber, fuel
Costanza et al. 1997b; Sathirathai & Barbier 2001). Although   wood, tannin, honey, fodder and thatch and provide livelihood
the range of value may vary, for example as a consequence of   opportunities for local people (Badola & Hussain 2003).
site specificity and method used, with such calculus mangrove    The loss of Bhitarkanika mangrove forests has been mainly
conservation becomes a tangible value that can help in land-   a result of human encroachment, reclamation of land for
use decision making.                       agriculture and unsustainable practices such as aquaculture
  The Bhitarkanika mangrove ecosystem is the second largest   and mechanized fishing (Chadah & Kar 1999). Recent
mangrove forest of mainland India (Fig. 1). Originally around  developments, such as construction of jetties and roads and
672 km2 , it is now limited to an area of 145 km2 and is     a possible major port at Dhamra, threaten the ecosystem
a wildlife sanctuary (Chadah & Kar 1999). This deltaic,     (Badola & Hussain 2003). Declaration of the mangrove forests
mangrove forest harbours the highest diversity of Indian     of Bhitarkanika as a protected area (PA) has reduced access
mangrove flora, the largest known rookery of the olive ridley   to life support, while the unsustainable resource use in the
sea turtle Lepidochelys olivacea in the world, the last of the  area has been a major threat to its continued existence. The
three remaining populations of saltwater crocodiles Crocodylus  scenario is one of mutually exclusive conservation efforts
porosus in India, the largest known population of king cobra   and development initiatives that translate into resource-
Ophiophagus hannah and the water monitor lizard Varanus     use conflicts between the forest department and the local
salvator (Patnaik et al. 1995). It is also one of the largest  communities.
                                        Valuing storm protection by mangrove forests

  With a view to valuing the uses and ecological services     officinalis and Hibiscus tiliaceus, with occasional Sonneratia
provided by the Bhitarkanika mangrove ecosystem, quanti-      apetala. Climbers like Caesalpinia cristata and Dalbergia
fying the dependence of local communities on it, identifying    spinosa are abundant in the riverine patches, making them
marginalized stakeholders, and examining the attitudes of local  almost impenetrable. In the small open patches, under-
communities towards present management, we set out to value    shrubs of Acanthus predominate. The influence of the ocean
the storm protection functions of the Bhitarkanika mangrove    is reflected in the floral composition. Avicennia marina,
forests. This was based on the perceptions of local people     Sonneratia apetala and some rare Rhizophoraceae increase in
regarding the services provided by mangrove forests and      frequency towards the ocean and Hibiscus tiliaceus disappears
their attitudes towards these forests generally. We aimed to    completely. Aegialitis rotundifolia and Avicennia marina are
measure the economic losses attributed to the cyclone relative   found only in areas of high salinity. The other two species
to the prevailing socio-economic conditions of the study      of Avicennia, namely A. alba and A. officinalis, show a wider
villages.                             range of salt tolerance. Brownlowia tersa and Merope angulata
  A super cyclone with a wind speed of around 260 km h−1 and   are found mostly in small creeks. Phoenix paludosa occurs
a storm surge of about 9 m hit the Orissa coast in the month of  in degraded areas, being abundant in some patches. Hibiscus
October 1999. This storm travelled more than 250 km inland     tiliaceus is a species preferring drier areas where the water level
and, within a period of 36 h, ravaged more than 20 million ha   has fallen and inundation is rare. Cynometra spp. are found in
of land, affecting around 15 million people (Tynkkynen 2000).   association with Pongamia spp., Hibiscus spp. and Salvadora
We evaluated the extent of damage caused in areas that were    spp., and Dalbergia spp., Heritiera spp. and Excoecaria spp.
in the cover of mangrove forests and areas that were not, in the  occur in firm ground away from the shoreline. Sonneratia
wake of this super cyclone. In 1971, embankment was created    spp. occurs on the shoreline and survives on loose substratum
along the entire Orissa coast. Therefore, we also studied the   (Badola & Hussain 2003).
effectiveness of such man-made structures in providing storm
protection, as opposed to mangrove forests.
                                  We used the damage-cost avoided approach (Bann 1998)
Study area
                                  to value the storm protection function of the Bhitarkanika
The Bhitarkanika Conservation Area (BCA) is located in       mangrove ecosystem. The actual damages avoided due to
the eastern state of Orissa, (86◦ 45 –87 50 E and 20◦       mangrove forest were estimated after a cyclone hit the
40 –20◦ 48 N; Patnaik et al. 1995). This mangrove forest      area in October 1999. Socio-economic data pertaining to
and the associated coast harbour the highest diversity of     local demography and economic conditions were collected
Indian mangrove flora and fauna (Naskar & Mandal 1999).       from 35 villages located in and around the BCA. Data on
The mangrove forests of Bhitarkanika differ considerably      demography, land use and occupational patterns, resource
from other mangroves because of the dominant tree species     use, and perceptions and attitudes were gathered through a
Sonneratia apetala, Heritiera fomes, H. littoralis and several   questionnaire survey from 10% of the households. We col-
Avicennia species. In addition, there is one species of grass   lected preliminary information randomly by asking people
Myriostachya wightiana, which is very common in the area      about the losses they incurred because of the 1999 cyclone.
but practically unknown elsewhere (Blasco 1977). There are     On this basis, we tried to compare the impact of the cyclone
64 species of plants in BCA, which include 28 true mangroves,   in villages that had mangrove cover with those unprotec-
four mangrove associates and 32 other species (Badola &      ted by mangrove forests, but since coastal embankments have
Hussain 2003).                           been constructed in Orissa to prevent seawater intrusion into
  In 1975, the mangrove forests and the adjacent land of     reclaimed paddy fields, it was imperative that the effects
Bhitarkanika were declared a wildlife sanctuary encompassing    of embankments and mangroves be separated. Hence, the
an area of 672 km2 , with a core area of 145 km2 being       following three situations were identified: (1) a village in
designated national park. The coastline stretches 35 km      the shadow of mangrove (2) a village not in the shadow of
along its eastern side, constituting the Gahirmatha Marine     mangrove and having no embankment, and (3) a village not
Sanctuary (GMS). The Bhitarkanika National Park (BNP),       in the shadow of mangrove, but with an embankment on the
the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS) and parts of the     seaward side.
GMS, together with 336 villages and adjacent cultivated        Based on a land-use cover map prepared in a geographical
agricultural lands within the BWS, together constitute the     information system domain (Fig. 1), three study villages were
BCA, an area of c. 3000 km2 (Fig. 1). The mangrove formations   identified, representing the three situations. Care taken to
of the BCA were once widespread, but are now restricted to     avoid variations in damage attributable to wind, water logging
the BNP, whereas the BWS has a few degraded mangroves       and distance of villages from the coast and mangrove forests
and palm swamps (Badola & Hussain 2003).              limited the sample size to three villages. Bankual village was in
  Within the BNP the initial band of vegetation at the water’s  the shadow of mangrove forest, Singidi village was neither in
edge is usually the tall Myriostachya wightiana grass, while    the shadow of mangroves nor protected by embankment from
landward of this the mangrove is dominated by Avicennia      storm surge, and Bandhamal village was not in the shadow of
88   R. Badola and S.A. Hussain

Table 1 Overall characteristics of the village agroecosystem in the   total collapse, i.e. the sum of the damage to all the structures
Bhitarkanika Conservation Area, India. (n = 35 villages; SEM =      (thatch, poles, roof, beams and walls) of the house. We used
standard error of the mean).                       Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software for
                      Mean      SEM     data processing and performed one-way ANOVA tests (Zar
Habitation (ha)               113.27      3.98    1984) to compare the means of various variables for the three
Average size of paddy fields          1.32      0.120   villages.
Overall paddy yield (kg ha−1 )       948.83      0.56
Net area sown (irrigated, ha)         1.46      0.59
Net area sown (non-irrigated, ha)       6.44      2.61    RESULTS
No. of coconut trees/household         9.44      1.05
Income of the family (US$ yr−1 )                     The villages situated around the Bhitarkanika mangrove
                      488.86     10.401
                                     forests had a mean area of c. 113.27 ha per village and the
% People unemployed             13.58      0.613
                                     economy was primarily agricultural, possessing small land
                                     holdings and being dependent on the monsoon. The average
                                     size of paddy fields was 1.32 ha, and the total area sown was
mangroves, but had seaward side embankment. The intensity        c. 7.9 ha per village, of which only 1.46 ha was irrigated.
of the impact of the 1999 cyclone on these villages should        In addition to the single crop of paddy, small quantities of
have been fairly uniform, as all the three selected villages       vegetables, coconut and fish were produced. Every household
were equidistant from the seashore and had similar aspects.       owned around nine coconut trees and about 38 coconuts were
The two villages outside mangrove cover were located close        produced from each tree. The average family income was
                                     low at US$ 488 yr−1 . About 13.5% people were unemployed
to each other, but both were far from the mangrove forest
in order to eliminate any effect of mangrove forest presence       (Table 1). Apart from a small proportion of people engaged
(Table 1). We conducted a door-to-door survey and sampled        in government service, most of the people’s livelihoods were
100% of the selected households to assess the socio-economic       based on agriculture and fisheries and related business.
status of the villages, the actual damage to houses, livestock,       The overall human density in the study villages was 260–
                                     340 people km−2 , the mean household size being between 4.5
fisheries, trees and other assets owned by the people and the
rate, level and duration of flooding. To assess the type of        (Bankual) and 8.2 people (Singdi) (Table 2). The literacy level
damage caused to houses, we developed a composite score or        was highest for Singdi and lowest for Bankual. In Singdi and
damage rating (DR) for each of the households surveyed in the      Bankual, 70% of people were engaged in agriculture, whereas
three villages. The scores were in the range of 0–19 depending      in Bandhamal, 61% were labourers (Table 2). Most of the
on the intensity of damage to the house. A value of 19 signified     houses (94%) were made of mud and thatch.

Table 2 General characteristics of       General characterstics                     Villages
the three intensively studied
                                                Singdi     Bankual    Bandhamal
villages in the Bhitarkanika
Conservation Area, India.            Location details
* House made of brick and cement.         Distance from mangrove forest (km)       9.2      0       8.2
** House made of mud and thatch.         Distance from sea coast (km)         12.65     12.13     12.18
                         Distance from dyke (km)           No dyke     2.37      0.45
                        Demographic characteristics
                         Total area (ha)               122.63     55.75     147.27
                         Human density (persons km2 )         314      340      260
                         Number of households             58       42       56
                         Mean household size              8.2      4.5      6.8
                         Total population               353      189      383
                         Literacy (%)                 56.7      31.2      38.6
                        Economic characteristics
                         People involved in agriculture (%)      70.6      70.6      14.4
                         People involved in fishing, animal       0       14.7      0
                          husbandry and allied activities (%)
                         People involved in labour (%)         22.4      2.95     61.4
                         People involved in other activities (%)    7.03     11.8      24.4
                        Type of houses
                         Total no. of houses (n)            37       38       32
                         Pucca* (%)                   5.4      0       0
                         Pucca with thatched roof (%)          0       2.6      9.4
                         Partially pucca (%)              2.7      0       0
                         Fully kutcha** (%)              91.9      97.4      90.6
                                        Valuing storm protection by mangrove forests

Table 3 Basic description and                                        Villages
mean values of the variables (per
                   Variables   Description                 Singdi   Bankual   Bandhamal
household) examined for
comparing the damage due to     DR      Damage to houses (0–19 scale)         9.40     5.34    10.44
cyclone in three study villages in  PTD      Tree damage (%)                21.0     3.3    15.5
the Bhitarkanika Conservation    DPP      Damage to other personal property (INR)   108.11     0.00   2375.00
Area, India. (US$ 1 = INR 45,    DL      Damage to livestock in money terms (INR)   54.05    127.63   1044.37
August 2004).            FP      Flooding in premises (m)            0.34     0.29    0.58
                   FF      Flooding in fields (m)             1.99     1.09    1.39
                   WLF      Water logging in fields (days)         9.46     5.63    12.87
                   CR      Cost of repair and reconstruction (INR)   996.97    682.86   973.21
                          Yield for the year 1999 (kg ha−1 )
                   Y99                            531     1479.5    335.9
                   LFS      Loss of fish seedlings (fingerlings)      310.81    69.74   260.94
                           released prior to cyclone (INR)
                   TML      Total quantifiable variables (INR)      1983.3   61454.13   6918.62

                                   being highest in Bandhamal (0.6 m ± 0.05 m) and lowest for
Table 4 Results of the ANOVA for each variable and significance of
                                   Bankual (0.3 m ± 0.04 m) (Table 3). The highest level of
their means. See Table 3 for variable definitions.
Variable     n       df     F      p value   saline water intrusion in the crop fields (FF) was for Singdi,
                                   followed by Bandhamal and Bankual. Flood water remained in
DR        107      1      14.633    0.000
PTD         93     1      9.891    0.000    fields (WLF) for longest duration in Bandhamal, flood retreat
DPP        107      1      6.814    0.002    for Singdi and Bankual being faster (Tables 3 and 4).
DL        107      1      5.398    0.006     The standing crops of paddy were severely affected by the
FP        103      1      7.670    0.001    cyclone. Crop production differed among the three villages
FF        100      1      35.102    0.000
                                   (Table 4), Bankual having the greatest paddy yield for 1999
WLF        102      1      18.654    0.000
                                   (Y99) of 1479.5 kg ha−1 , while in Singdi the yield was 531 kg
CR         96     1      1.270    0.286
                                   ha−1 and in Bandhamal it was 335.9 kg ha−1 (Table 3). The
Y99         59     1      99.029    0.000
                                   mean paddy yield differed for all three villages between the
LFS        107      1      1.506    0.227
                                   years 1999 and 2001 (F = 99.029, df = 1, p = 0.000); in 1999
TML         98     1      17.936    0.000
                                   it was 568 kg ha−1 while in 2001 it was 1012.7 kg ha−1 .
                                    At the time of this study, the fishponds had not been
                                   harvested, however, the loss to fisheries was significant because
Damage attributed to wind and storm surge
                                   of the loss of the fingerlings released that year. The greatest
The high-speed winds and storm surge generally damaged
                                   damage to fish seedlings per household (LFS) was in Singdi,
the mud and thatch houses, with not many cases of damage to
                                   where INR 310.8 ± 144.97 (US$ 6.91) of seedlings released
roof frames being reported. However, about 49.5% of houses
                                   were washed away, and the least damage was in Bankual (INR
had their roof blown away, accompanied by either cracking
                                   69.7 ± 32.20, US$ 1.55; Table 3).
of walls or their partial collapse on some sides, the maximum
mean DR being 9.4 ± 0.7 for Singdi village and the minimum
mean DR being 5.3 ± 0.5 for Bankual village (Table 3). Mean     Total monetary loss
DR to houses varied among the three villages (Table 4). The
                                   Total losses in monetary terms were calculated for each of the
percentage of trees dying (PTD) attributed to the cyclone
                                   households in the three villages by combining the values of
was highest in Singdi (21.0%), while only 3.3% of trees were
                                   the cost of repair and reconstruction (CR), damage to other
damaged in Bankual (Tables 3 and 4), which had the highest
                                   personal property such as boats, fishing nets and household
number of trees (Table 2). Costs for reconstruction work
                                   goods (DPP), damage to livestock (DL) and loss of agricultural
per household (CR) did not differ between villages (Table
                                   products (i.e. difference in total paddy production between
4). The highest value was INR 997.0 ± 182.18 (US$ 22.15)
                                   2001–1999, taking the area cultivated in 1999 as the basis).
for Singdi, while the lowest was INR 682.9 ± 144.05 (US$
                                    The loss incurred per household (TML) was highest in
15.17) for Bankual. Loss to private property such as boats,
                                   Bandhamal (US$ 153.74) followed by Singdi (US$ 44.07) and
nets (DPP) and livestock casualties (DL) were highest in
                                   Bankual (US$ 32.31) (Tables 3 and 4).
Bandhamal (Tables 3 and 4), the village far from the mangrove
forests but protected by the embankment (Table 2).
                                   Attitudes and perceptions of local people
Damage attributed to saline water intrusion
                                   When asked to rank the ecological services performed by
Flooding levels in houses and crop fields differed among       mangrove forests, 89% of respondents gave the highest
villages (Table 4), saline water intrusion into houses (FP)     preference to cyclone mitigation and flood control. They
90   R. Badola and S.A. Hussain

Table 5 Ranking of various           Ecological functions/values       Rank 1 (%)   Rank 2 (%)   Rank 3 (%)
functions performed by the           Cyclone mitigation and flood control   88.6      11        0.4
mangrove forests by the people of       Land erosion prevention         50       50        0
the Bhitarkanika Conservation         Aesthetic value             38       61.2       0.8
Area, India (n = 268).             Augment agricultural production      8       92        0
                        Contribute in fish production       1.9      96.2       1.9
                        Historical and cultural value       8.8      88.9       2.3
                        Others                  18.9      70.3      10.8

Table 6 Attitudes of local people                                     Responses (%)
towards Bhitarkanika Wildlife
                        Questions                    Yes     No     Indifferent
Sanctuary, India and conservation
initiatives taken by Forest          Are you aware that Bhitarkanika is declared   89.6    10.4     0
Department of Government of           national park and sanctuary?
Orissa (n = 268).               Do you feel any sense of responsibility for   84.3    13.4     2.2
                         the protection of diverse flora and fauna?
                        Do you think your rights have been violated   18.3    72.8     9
                         after declaration of park?
                        Do you face any problems because of park?     5.6    84.7     9
                        Are you in favour of integrated conservation   92.9     2.2     4.9
                         and development projects for the area?
                        Would you like to cooperate with forest     43.3    23.1    36.6
                         department for mangrove restoration?

ranked the land erosion prevention function second (Table 5).    cover. During the last century, mangroves from these areas
In the villages located far from the mangrove forest, 92.5%     were destroyed or degraded by people, making these areas
of males and 97.5% of females perceived that mangroves       vulnerable to the damage caused by cyclones.
were beneficial to their lives and property. The contribution      Many authors have emphasized the protection from storms
of mangrove forests to increasing agricultural productivity,    and cyclones that mangroves offer to coastal areas (see Carlton
as well as providing protection from storms and cyclones,      1974: Maltby 1986; Semesi 1998), however there are few
was considered most important. However, more people         empirical studies that provide quantitative information on
from villages located near mangrove forests appreciated       this function of mangrove forests. Although only indicative,
their contribution to agricultural productivity, while more     we show that the damage attributed to the cyclone was more
people from the villages far from mangroves regarded storm     extensive in villages further away from the mangrove shadow.
protection as an important contribution. About 90% people      The embankments constructed in 1971 after a previous
in the area were aware that the Bhitarkanika mangrove forests    cyclone to prevent intrusion of saline water into agricultural
have protected status. A high percentage (84%) of people felt    fields and villages were ineffective during the high storm-
responsible for the conservation of flora and fauna, while 93%    surge; in fact they acted as a barrier to run-off when the
were in favour of an integrated conservation and development    water was receding. The embankments suffered a number
programme (ICDP). Approximately 43% of people were         of breaches that resulted in the flooding of villages such
willing to cooperate with the forest department in mangrove     as Bandhamal, which was surrounded on all sides by the
restoration. Only 18% people felt the park’s declaration      embankment. Singdi village with no mangrove cover and no
violated rights, the main reason being the access denied to     embankment suffered the highest level of field inundation,
firewood (Table 6).                         however the seawater receded quickly, resulting in less damage
                                  to agricultural crops. Bankual village, which was in the shadow
                                  of mangrove forest and had little embankment around it,
                                  suffered the least. Although this study is not conclusive,
Every year about 80 tropical cyclones with winds ≥ 35 knots     the lack of breaches in the embankment closer to forest is
form in the world’s waters (McBride 1995), about 6.5% of      indicative of the protection provided by mangroves to the
them occurring in Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea (Neumann      embankment. In areas far from the forest, several breaches in
1993). The cyclones forming in the Bay of Bengal hit the      the embankment were observed. Water levels were higher
east coast of India, particularly the states of Andhra Pradesh,   and the flooding was of longer duration in Bandhamal.
Orissa and West Bengal, every year, causing heavy loss of      The cyclone uprooted almost all the trees in the immediate
life and property. Along the Indian coast, all those areas that   vicinity of the coast and caused much damage to trees several
are vulnerable to tropical cyclones once had natural mangrove    kilometres inland. Unofficially, the damage to horticulture
                                         Valuing storm protection by mangrove forests

and orchards was estimated to be INR 200 billion (Tynkkynen      communities. The awareness and appreciation by the local
2000). However, mangrove forests and trees in the shadow of      people of the functions performed by the mangrove forest is a
mangrove forests were intact.                     positive sign for conservation of the area.
  We contend that the vulnerability of many coastal human
communities to cyclones is heightened by the removal of        ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
mangroves for development, agriculture and habitation. While
                                   The India Environment Management Capacity Building
property damage from storms and hurricanes is highest in the
                                   (EMCaB) Project, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development
developed northern nations, deaths and injury are usually
                                   Research (IGIDR), Mumbai, provided funding support for
highest in the poor tropical and sub-tropical nations, where
                                   this study. We thank Chief Wildlife Warden, Government
larger numbers of people are exposed to the storms (Maltby
                                   of Orissa and Mr Anup Nayak, Divisional Forest Officer,
1986). Mangrove forests are natural buffers against storm
                                   Mangrove Forest Division, Rajanagar, Orissa for permitting
surges (Maltby 1986), protecting tropical shores from erosion
                                   us to carry out this research in the Bhitarkanika Wildlife
by tides and currents. Macintosh (1983) recommended that
                                   Sanctuary. We thank Dr Hemant Kumar Sahu, Ms Poonam
a mangrove strip at least 100 m wide should be left as a
                                   Semwal, Ms Kalpana Ambastha, Ms Shivani Chandola and
buffer zone on more exposed shores. During the present
                                   Mr Anoop K.R. for helping us with field data collection and
study, we realized that the artificial sea defences were not only
expensive to build and repair, but they were also, in many
cases, ineffective. Extensive Casuarina plantations established
as a storm protection measure along the Orissa coast
were ineffective in preventing damage; rather, they caused      Adger, W.N., Kelly, P.M. & Tri, N.H. (1997) Valuing the products
destruction to olive ridley sea turtle Lepidochelys olivacea      and services of mangrove restoration. Commonwealth Forestry
nesting beaches (Pandav & Chaudhury 2002). Ecological          Review 76(3): 198–202.
functions such as storm protection may be very important       Badola, R. (1998) Attitudes of local people towards conservation
                                    and alternatives to forest resources: A case study from the lower
components in the total economic value of a wetland and may
                                    Himalayas. Biodiversity and Conservation 7(10): 1245–1259.
constitute almost 80% of the estimated value (Costanza et al.
                                   Badola, R. & Hussain, S.A. (2003) Valuation of Bhitarknika mangrove
1989). This is a major indirect benefit and the principal reason
                                    ecosystem for ecological security and sustainable resource use.
for restoring mangrove forests along much of the low-lying
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