, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 321-331

Valuing mangrove benefits: contribution of mangrove forests to local livelihoods in Bhitarkanika Conservation Area, East Coast of India

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Abstract

The consumptive benefits of mangrove forests to subsistence economy receive little recognition. This paper quantifies the value of provisioning services of mangrove forests to local livelihoods in terms of forestry and fishery products. To examine the use of mangrove products, 324 households from 36 villages in the Bhitarkanika Conservation Area located in East Coast of India were surveyed using structured questionnaires. For estimating the contribution of mangrove forests to fish productivity, fish production was evaluated in three stages—inshore fishery, offshore fishery and the role of mangrove forests as nursery ground for fish and shellfish. The findings revealed that 14.2% of the fuel need of each household was being met by the forests. Other forestry products used were timber, honey and thatch grass. During the study, 14 species of fish and three of shellfish were recorded. The total catch for inshore fishery was estimated as 3.77 kg h−1 having market price of US$ 2.25. In offshore fishery the number of species caught as well as income from the catch was higher in areas with mangroves (US$ 44.61 h−1) than in those without mangroves (US$ 2.62 h−1). The market price of the forestry and fishery products used by the people was estimated as US$ 107 household−1 annum−1. The resources extracted from mangrove forests contributed to more than 14.5% of the total income of the household. This was around 30% for the households residing in the immediate vicinity of the forests. This study suggests that provisioning services provided by the mangrove forests are of significant importance to the coastal communities as they increase the resilience and sustainability of the local economy.