MISHTI scheme promotes the development of 540 Sq. Kms Mangroves across 11 States and 2 Union Territories
Resources for the implementation of the Amrit Dharohar and MISHTI schemes are being converged with other ongoing schemes and programmes of Central and State Governments.
The features of the Amrit Dharohar scheme include:
- Promoting the unique conservation values of wetlands
- Enhancing biodiversity, carbon stock, and ecotourism opportunities
- Generating income for local communities
The objectives of the Amrit Dharohar scheme are inter-alia:
- Integrated management of wetlands for green growth
- Developing nature and culture-based tourism at the sites
- Community stewardship for wetland-based livelihood, heritage, and culture
- Building convergence with different Ministries and departments, State Governments, Research and academic institutions, and the Industrial Sector over the next three years across the country
The Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) scheme aims to:
- Comprehensively explore the possible area for the development of Mangroves, covering approximately 540 sq. kms across 11 States and 2 Union Territories during five years, commencing from FY 2023-24 onwards
- Share best practices on plantation techniques, conservation measures, and management practices
- Mobilize resources through Public-Private Partnerships
This information was provided by the Minister of State for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
Afforestation program aims to protect coastal habitats and boost livelihoods
In the Union Budget 2023-24 presented on Wednesday (February 1), Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the MISHTI scheme, a new initiative aimed at mangrove plantations along India’s coastline and on salt pan lands.
MISHTI, or Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes, will leverage funding from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Fund, and other sources to achieve its objectives.
Importance of Mangroves in India
- Climate change mitigation:
- Mangroves act as carbon sinks, absorbing and storing large amounts of CO2.
- They help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat global warming.
- Biodiversity conservation:
- Mangroves support diverse ecosystems, providing habitats for numerous species.
- They are home to many endangered and threatened species.
- The unique environment supports a variety of flora and fauna.
- Coastal protection:
- Mangroves serve as natural barriers against coastal erosion, storm surges, and tsunamis.
- They buffer the impact of waves and storms, protecting coastal communities.
- Mangroves trap sediment, reducing coastal erosion and stabilizing shorelines.
- Livelihood support:
- Mangroves provide resources like fish, crustaceans, and timber for local communities.
- They support industries like fishing and aquaculture.
- Mangrove forests contribute to food security for coastal populations.
- Water quality improvement:
- Mangroves filter pollutants and excess nutrients from the water, improving water quality.
- They help maintain the health of coastal ecosystems like seagrass beds and coral reefs.
- Ecotourism potential:
- Mangroves offer unique wildlife and nature experiences for tourists.
- They create opportunities for local communities through jobs and income generation.
- Mangrove-based ecotourism promotes environmental awareness and conservation.
- Cultural and spiritual significance:
- Mangroves hold cultural and spiritual importance for some indigenous and local communities in India.
- They are often associated with traditional knowledge, beliefs, and practices.
- Climate change adaptation:
- Mangroves can help coastal communities adapt to the impacts of climate change, such as the sea-level rise and increased storm intensity.
- Their ability to store and reduce carbon emissions can contribute to slowing down the rate of climate change.
Mangrove Distribution in India
According to the Indian State of Forest Report (IFSR) 2021, India is home to approximately 4,992 sq km (0.49 million hectares) of mangroves, distributed across nine states and three union territories. West Bengal has the highest mangrove cover, with 2,114 sq km.
The IFSR report notes that mangrove coverage in India has increased from 4,046 sq km in 1987 to 4,992 sq km in 2021. However, the mangrove ecosystem faces ongoing threats from population growth in coastal areas, increasing demand for land, timber, fodder, fuelwood, and other non-wood forest products like fisheries.
MISHTI Scheme: Goals and Implementation
MISHTI aims to facilitate intensive afforestation of coastal mangrove forests to protect and preserve these vital ecosystems. The scheme will be implemented through a convergence of MGNREGS, CAMPA Fund, and other sources. Collaboration with local communities will be crucial for the success of the initiative, as the survival rate of mangrove seed plantations is around 50%, and 60% for saplings. It takes roughly three years for a new plant to stabilize, so ongoing community involvement is essential for the long-term success of the project.
Climate Change and Mangroves
The ‘State of World Mangroves 2022’ report highlights that mangroves can store up to four times more carbon than other ecosystems. The loss of just 1% of remaining mangroves could result in the release of 0.23 gigatons of CO2 equivalent, equating to over 520 million barrels of oil.
India’s commitment to the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC), launched at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties, aligns with the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030 through the increased forest and tree cover.
Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC)
The Mangrove Alliance for Climate, an initiative led by the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia, includes India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan, and Spain. The alliance aims to educate and raise awareness worldwide about the role of mangroves in mitigating global warming and their potential as a solution for climate change.
MAC works on a voluntary basis, with member countries determining their own commitments and deadlines for planting and restoring mangroves, as well as sharing expertise and support for researching, managing, and protecting coastal areas.
How will the MISHTI scheme benefit India?
- Climate change mitigation: Mangroves play a crucial role in mitigating the impacts of climate change. They store large amounts of carbon dioxide, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By increasing mangrove coverage, the MISHTI scheme will help India achieve its climate goals and contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.
- Biodiversity conservation: Mangroves are known to support a diverse range of flora and fauna. They provide important habitats for many species, including some that are endangered. The MISHTI scheme will help preserve these habitats, contributing to the conservation of India’s rich biodiversity.
- Coastal protection: Mangroves act as natural barriers against coastal erosion, storm surges, and tidal waves. By increasing mangrove coverage, the MISHTI scheme will help protect India’s coastal communities from the impacts of extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and other coastal hazards.
- Livelihood opportunities: Mangrove forests are essential for the livelihoods of many coastal communities in India. They provide resources such as fish, crustaceans, and timber, which are crucial for the local economy. The MISHTI scheme will help ensure the sustainable use of these resources and create new livelihood opportunities through mangrove plantation activities.
- Ecotourism: Mangroves have significant potential for ecotourism, offering unique experiences for visitors interested in nature and wildlife. By promoting the conservation and sustainable use of mangrove forests, the MISHTI scheme can contribute to the development of ecotourism along India’s coastline, creating new economic opportunities for local communities.
Challenges and Concerns of Mishti Scheme
While the MISHTI scheme has the potential to bring significant benefits, it also faces challenges and concerns that need to be addressed for successful implementation:
- Land-use conflicts: Many coastal areas in India are already under pressure from various land-use activities such as agriculture, aquaculture, and infrastructure development. Ensuring that mangrove plantation does not conflict with existing land uses will be essential for the successful implementation of the MISHTI scheme.
- Community engagement: Local communities play a vital role in the management and conservation of mangroves. It will be crucial to involve them in the implementation of the MISHTI scheme, ensuring their needs and concerns are addressed, and they have a stake in the success of the program.
- Monitoring and evaluation: Regular monitoring and evaluation will be essential to assess the progress and effectiveness of the MISHTI scheme. This will help identify areas where improvements are needed and ensure that the program stays on track to achieve its goals.
- Long-term funding and support: Ensuring adequate funding and support for the MISHTI scheme over the long term will be crucial to its success. This will require the continued commitment of the Indian government and other stakeholders, as well as the mobilization of additional resources from international partners and the private sector.
In conclusion, the MISHTI scheme has the potential to make a significant positive impact on India’s coastal environment and the livelihoods of its coastal communities. By addressing the challenges and concerns associated with its implementation, the scheme can play a vital role in promoting the sustainable management and conservation of India’s valuable mangrove ecosystems.
With the right support and commitment from all stakeholders, the MISHTI scheme can become a model for other countries to follow in their efforts to protect and restore mangrove forests worldwide.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) scheme?
The MISHTI scheme is a programme that facilitates mangrove plantation along India’s coastline and on saltpan lands, with the goal of intensifying the afforestation of coastal mangrove forests.
Why is the MISHTI scheme important for India?
The MISHTI scheme is important for India because it helps to protect coastlines, reduce coastal erosion, improve carbon sequestration, and support the livelihoods of local communities by promoting the growth and conservation of mangrove forests.
How do mangroves help protect coastlines from extreme weather events?
Mangroves make coastal lands more resilient by preventing flooding and land erosion and acting as a buffer for cyclones, which are expected to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change.
How do mangroves reduce coastal erosion?
Mangroves reduce coastal erosion through their dense root systems, which bind and build soils, and their above-ground roots which slow down water flow, resulting in sediment deposits.
What makes mangroves excellent carbon sinks?
Mangroves can sequester up to four times more carbon than tropical rainforests because they can grow in saline waters, and they potentially store up to 10 times more carbon per hectare (ha) than terrestrial forests.
What percentage of the planet’s surface do mangroves cover?
Mangroves cover only about 0.1 per cent of the planet’s surface.
How do mangroves support the livelihoods of local artisanal fishers?
Mangroves support a rich food web, with molluscs and algae-filled substrates acting as breeding grounds for small fish, mud crabs, and shrimps, providing a livelihood to local artisanal fishers.
Where is the world’s largest protected mangrove forest located?
The world’s largest protected mangrove forest is in the Sundarbans, which covers 10,000 km2 of land and water in the Ganges delta, with more than half of it in India and the rest in Bangladesh.
Which state in India has the highest mangrove cover?
West Bengal has the highest mangrove cover in India, with 2,114 sq km (42.45% of India’s mangrove cover).
Which states and union territories in India have mangrove forests?
Mangroves in India are distributed across nine states and three union territories, with the highest mangrove cover in West Bengal, followed by Gujarat and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.