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Swaminathan Research Foundation

Chennai, India
The mangroves of Pichavaram, Tamil Nadu. sustain the women fishers (top) and the fisherman (above).
They and other rural folk at Pichavaram have benefited from the activities of MSSRF in co-operation with
the Forest Department and other stakeholders.
The Mangrove Decade
and Beyond
Activities, Lessons and Challenges in Mangrove
Conservation and Management, 1990-2001.
April 2002
This publication has been made possible with support from
the India-Canada Environment Facility (ICEF).
@ M S Swaminathan Research Foundation
All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, without permission
Front Cover: MSSRF's work on mangroves exemplifies technology and people's participation in support of
mangrove restoration, conservation and management.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Nature
provides for everybody's need, but
not for everyone's greed".
Mangroves illustrate powerfully the
truth behind this visionary statement.
When we study a mangrove wetland
and understand the multiple benefits
they confer upon coastal
communities earning their livelihood
either from the sea or from the land,
we cannot but be grateful to Nature for this wonderful gift to
humankind. Mangroves not only protect the coastal
communities from the fury of cyclones and coastal storms,
but also promote sustainable fisheries and prevent sea erosion.
In addition, they provide medicine and fuel wood. They also
serve as the home of a wide range of flora and fauna including
crocodiles and tigers. In spite of all such gifts they confer,
many mangrove wetlands have been cleared for aquaculture
ponds and other alternative uses. Still others have been
unsustainably exploited, leading to their degradation. Thus,
they are becoming victims of human greed and
Coastal Systems Research (CSR) was one of the early areas
of study chosen by the M.S. Swaminathan Research
Foundation (MSSRF) S90n after it started functioning in 1990.
The scientific aim of CSR is to develop methods of managing
in an integrated manner sea and land surface along the
shoreline. The applied aim is to link the ecological security of
coastal areas and the livelihood security of coastal communities
in a mutually reinforcing manner. Mangrove wetlands were
chosen for developing the CSR methodology since they
constitute fascinating and symbiotic links between the land
and the sea. The studies were initially started in the Pichavaram
mangroves near Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu.
During the 1970s and '80s, UNESCO had sponsored a multi-
country study of the physiology and geography of mangrove
wetlands in South and Southeast Asia. These studies however
did not cover an analysis of genetic diversity among different
mangrove species. The MSSRF research was designed to fill
this gap. Studies on genetic richness of mangrove ecosystems
and the identification of genes responsible for sea water
tolerance in mangrove trees constituted the two major thrusts
of this Mangrove Genetics programme. At the same time the
conservation, restoration and sustainable utilization of
mangrove forests were accorded priority.
MSSRF was the first to propose the concept that mangroves
can be invaluable donors of breeding crop genotypes
adapted to coastal salinity through recombinant DNA
technology. With support from the Governments of Japan and
Australia, MSSRF scientists surveyed the Asia-Pacific and
West African regions for genetic richness in mangrove species
and genera. The mangrove wetlands ofBaimaru in Papua New
Guinea and Bhitarkanika in Orissa, India, were found to be
genetic paradises. At the same time, with support from the
Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, a Genetic
Resources Centre for Adaptation to Sea Level Rise was
established at Pichavaram. This anticipatory research
programme was undertaken to protect coastal farm families
from the hazards arising from potential changes in sea level
caused by global warming.
The tools of biotechnology were thus used to study the genetic
make-up of mangroves and to standardise methods of
transferring genetic factors for salt tolerance from mangroves
to annual crops like tobacco, pulses, oil seeds and rice. Attempts
to save mangroves without strengthening the livelihoods of
the farm and fisher communities living in the vicinity of
mangrove forests will prove unsuccessful. Hence, equal
attention was given to improving the economic well-being of
mangrove forest-dependant communities.
Based on the work done in Tamil Nadu, CSR work as related
to mangrove wetlands was extended in 1996 to Andhra
Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal with generous SUPP0I1 from
the India-Canada Environment Facility.
This publication is designed to provide a synoptic view of the
work done by MSSRF scientists supported by State Forest
Departments and mangrove forest communities during the
period 1991-2001 for saving mangroves and for saving lives
and livelihoods in the East Coast of India. This research has
not only resulted in work of great significance to the sustainable
mangrove ecosystem management (i .e., conservation,
sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits) but has
helped to advance the frontiers of application of genetic
engineering in this unique group of plants. Eight research
scholars have received their Ph.D degrees by working on the
molecular genetics of mangroves. Several valuable transgenic
combinations have been obtained. The choice of MSSRF for
the Blue Planet Prize in 1996 was partly in recognition of the
unique contributions to ensuring the sustainable future of
coastal mangrove wetlands. No other Asian institution or
individual has received the Blue Planet Prize so far.
We are indebted to Shri. S.R. Madhu for undertaking the task
of preparing this summary of the last 10 years of work by our
young scientists and scholars in mangrove wetlands. I hope
this publication will be found useful by scholars, foresters
and conservationists on the one hand, and policy-makers and
the general public on the other.
M.S. Swami nathan
Foreword by M. S. Swaminathan 2
Abbreviations and Acrony,ns 4
I. Introduction 5
2. Summary of MSSRF's Projects on Mangroves 8
3. Global Network of Mangrove Resources Genetic Centres 10
3.1 Chennai Workshop 10
3.2 Identifying Sites for the Mangrove Centres 10
3.3 Training of Trainers 11
3.4 Mangrove Ecosystem Information Services 12
4. Restoration of Degraded Mangrove Wetlands:
the Pioneering Work in Pichavaram, Tamil Nadu: 14
5. Joint Mangrove Management 16
5.1. The Process of Joint Mangrove Management. 18
5.2. Joint Mangrove Management, Tamil Nadu 20
5.3. Joint Mangrove Management, Andhra Pradesh 24
5.4. Joint Mangrove Management, Orissa 28
5.5. Joint Mangrove Management, West Bengal 30
5.6. Women's Empowennent 31
5.7. Partnership with Forest Departments 33
6. Remote Sensing and Mangrove Mapping 34
7. Genetic Engineering and Adaptation to Climatic Change:
Mangrove Genetic Resources Centre, Pichavaram 35
8. Conservation and Genetic Enhancement of Mangroves 37
9. How a Mangrove Community Views the Project 39
10. The Future 40
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Centre for Research on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development
Coastal Systems Research Programme
Department of Bio- Technology (Government of India)
Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas
Eco-development Committee (Andhra Pradesh)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Forest Protection Committee (West Bengal)
Forest Department
Geographic Information System
Global Mangrove Information System
Indian Agricultural Research Institute
India-Canada Environment Facility
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
International Development Research Centre (Canada)
International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems
International Tropical Timber Organization
International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Joint Mangrove Management
Luna Jungla Samrakshana Samiti (Orissa)
Mangrove Bibliographic Database
Mangrove Experts Database
Mangrove Resources Database
Mangrove Genetic Variability Database
Mangrove Ecosystems Information Service
Mangrove Forest Protection Committee
Mangrove Genetic Resources Conservation Centres
Mangrove Management Unit
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation
Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation
Orissa Renewable Energy Development Authority
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests
Participatory Rural Appraisal
Restriction-Fragment Length Polymorphism
Rapid Rural Appraisal
Sustainable Livelihood Security Index
United Nations Environment Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Village Development and Mangrove Council
Visakha Jilla Nava Nirman Samiti (NGO in AP)
Vana Samrakshana Samiti (in Andhra Pradesh)
World Wildlife Fund
1. Introduction

coastal waters by providing

them with large quantities
of organic and inorganic
Mangroves harbour a number of aquatic species.
The tangled mass of roots
from mangrove trees
provide safe havens for
juvenile stages of a gamut
of species, from fish fry to
shrimp naupleii.
They provide the habitats
for diverse marine and terrestrial flora and fauna -
ranging from migratory birds to estuarine crocodiles.
In sum, healthy mangrove forests not merely strengthen the
economy of coastal populations, they are the key to a healthy
marine ecology.
What is the total area occupied by mal/groves - worldwide
al/d il/ II/dia?
To quote Dr. Norman C Duke, a mangrove "is a tree, shrub,
palm or round fern, generally exceeding one half metre in
height, and which normally grows above mean sea level in
the intertidal zone of marine coastal ecosystems, or estuarine
How are mal/groves useful?
Mangroves mitigate the adverse impact of
storms and cyclones in coastal areas.
They reduce coastal erosion.
They buffer coastal waters from undesirable
land-based influences, such as sediment,
contaminant or nutrient run-off.
"If there are I/O mal/grove forests, the sea will have I/O
meal/iI/g. It's like a tree without roots; for mal/groves are
the roots of the sea." - Fishermal/ il/ the AI/damal/ Sea
What are mal/groves?
Mangroves are perennial plants that grow in coastal wetlands
of tropical regions. They are found in the intertidal zones of
sheltered shores, estuaries, creeks, backwaters, lagoons,
marshes and mud-flats.
They are a source of wood products - timber,
poles and posts. firewood. charcoal; non-wood
products such as fodder, honey, wax, tannin,
dye and materials for thatching; as well as
aquatic products such as fish, prawns, crabs,
clams, oysters, mussels and mullets.
They have been used by coastal populations to
build houses, canoes and bridges, to extract
dyes and other compounds that are used as
medicines, insecticides, dyes and tannin.
They are a nursery for important fish and
shellfish, crustaceans and molluscs. They
enhance the productivity of fish in adjacent
Mangrove forests are regarded as the most productive and
biodiverse wetlands on earth, as an important natural reserve
of biological diversity. The mangrove ecosystem constitutes a
bridge between terrestrial (land) and marine ecosystems.
What are the ul/ique characteristics ofmal/groves?
Mangroves survive high salinity, tidal extremes,
strong wind velocity, high temperature and muddy
anaerobic soil - conditions hostile for terrestrial
(land-based) plants. Mangrove plants owe their
"toughness" partly to their support roots that stand
like stilts on the soil, partly to their salt-excreting
leaves, breathing roots, and knee roots, partly to their
characteristic of viviparous germination.
The total worldwide mangrove area is estimated at
70,000 sq km. Some 60 species of trees and shrubs
are exclusive to the mangrove habitat.
Globally, mangroves show two distinct patterns of
distribution. The majority of species occur in the
Indo-Pacific region, while several distinct species
occur in West Africa, the Caribbean region, and
North, Central and South America.
In India, the area under mangroves is distributed over
4,900 It constitutes 7% of the world's
mangroves and about 8% of India's coastline. There
are three types of mangroves in India - deltaic
(occurring on the east coast), backwater estuarine
(on the west coast) and insular (Andaman & Nicobar
islands). In all, mangroves in India comprise around
60 species including 33 "true" mangrove species. A
higher mangrove species diversity is encountered in
the east coast of India and the Andaman & Nicobar
islands than on the west coast.
Are mangroves a threatened habitat?
Why and how are they getting depleted?
Once regarded merely as smelly mosquito-infested wastelands,
mangroves were over-exploited over the centuries. Today they
Felling of mangrove trees - one cause of mangrove forest loss.
are among the most threatened of the world's valuable habitats.
Mangrove forests once covered three-fourths of the coastlines
Mangroves, such as the Rhizophora spp, owe their toughness partly to their support roots
of tropical and sub-tropical countries.
Today, less than 50% remain, half of which
is said to be degraded. Greater protection
of primary or high- quality mangrove sites
is an urgent need.
Because of mangrove deforestation in
many areas of the world, fish resources are
declining, water supply is getting degraded,
coastal erosion and salinization are
rampant, carbon dioxide release into the
atmosphere is multiplying. In fact,
mangrove forests fix more carbon dioxide
per unit area than phytoplankton in tropical
Many factors contribute to mangrove forest
loss, which can be grouped into two
a) natural causes - such as changes in
topography and in the configuration
of the coastline, leading to erosion in
some mangrove areas and
sedimentation in the mouth regions of
some of the mangrove estuaries.
Many of the mangrove wetlands are
also affected by changes in the river
course leading to reduced inflow of
fresh water.
b) there are human-induced stresses -
such as felling of mangrove trees for
fuel, charcoal and timber; grazing by
domestic and feral cattle; diversion of
land for agriculture, human
settlements, salt pans and aquaculture;
industrial pollution; indiscriminate
fishing and collection of prawn seeds;
diversion of fresh water flow. During
the past decade, vast tracts of
mangrove forests have been cleared
to make way for coastal shrimp farms.
Consumer demand for shrimp has
fuelled an export-oriented industrial
shrimp aquaculture industry.
Top right: The mangrove at Muthupet, Tamil
Vadu. showing the mouth of the traditional
lshing canal.
ight, centre: Mutllllpet fisherman with his
catch of sea bass.
Alongside: Fisherman sells cut mangrove
wood to a retailerfor disposal as firewood
or building material. "We should tl}' to stop
this practice by encouraging alternate
JivelillOod opportunities," experts say.
2. Summary of MSSRF's Projects on Mangroves
From 1990, the work of the M. S. Swaminathan Research
Foundation, Chennai, has led to an upsurge of national and
international interest in conservation and management of
How and when did MSSRF begin its research on mangroves ?
What are the mangrove projects MSSRF is associated with?
Genesis: It all began in September 1989, at an international
conference in Tokyo on the global environment and sustainable
At the conference, Dr. M. S. Swaminathan warned that global
warming in future years might lead to a rise in sea levels,
swamping coastal agriculture. Mangroves could help avert
such a calamity because of their salt-tolerant and soil- binding
characteristics. He called for anticipatory research so that
scientists could transfer the salt-tolerant characteristics of
mangroves to other species. He pleaded for a global grid of
genetic resource centres for mangroves, sea grasses and other
coastal flora. Such a grid would protect the ecological security
of coastal regions and the livelihood security of coastal
communities. He also urged integrated effort towards the
conservation, evaluation,
classification and sustainable
utilisation of mangroves.
Project Design Workshop: Dr.
Swaminathan's remarks and
suggestions aroused much
interest. They led to a grant from
the International Tropical
Timber Organization (lITO) for
a project design workshop
concerning a global mangrove
network - which was held in
Chennai in January 1990 and resulted in important
recommendations. It also led to the setting up of the
International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME), at
Okinawa, Japan, in 1990. Dr Swami nathan was elected its
first President.
Identification of MGRCCs: On the basis of the
recommendations of the project design workshop, the ITTO
in 199 I approved of a project to set up a global network of
In 1992, two batches of scientists from several countries visited Pichavaram (below) and other sites to study their potential
as mangrove genetic resources conservation centres (MCRCC).
MGRCCs for adaptation to sea level rise
and for research on sustainable utilization
of mangroves. During April-May and
November 1992, two study teams of
scientists surveyed and evaluated 23 sites
from nine countries. Four centres were
identified - three in south and southeast
Asia and Oceania, one in West and Central
Trainers' Training on MGRCCs: In
February-May 1992, an international
training programme on "Conservation of
mangrove forest genetic resources" was
organised in Chennai under this project.
Aim: to train managers of MGRCC on all
aspects of mangrove conservation,
evaluation, documentation and utilisation. Candidates from
12 countries took part in the training and prepared a charter
for mangroves for their respective countries. The charter
prepared by the candidate from Viet Nam won the Vavilov
Mangrove Ecosystem Information Service: A Mangrove
Ecosystem Information Service (MEIS) came into being at
MSSRF in Chennai. This accelerated the birth of the Global
Mangrove Information Service (GLOMIS).
Establishment of a MGRCC in Pichavaram: Immediately
after the Chennai project design workshop of January 1990,
the MSSRF prepared a project for support from the Department
of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, for the
establishment of a mangrove genetic resources centre at
Pichavaram. Land for the centre was provided by the Forest
Department of Tamil Nadu. The project was implemented for
three years.
Rejuvenation of Degraded Mangroves and Development of
Seed Banks at Bhitarkanika: This 3-year project (September
I994-August 1997) supported by NORAD, sought restoration
of mangrove forests in the Bhitarkanika sanctuary, whose
mangrove ecosystem is one of the world's most geographically
diverse. The project conducted biology studies (such as
identification of Candidate Plus Trees for seed stock collection
and rapid multiplication), carried out experimental
re-vegetation on a degraded 50 ha patch of mangrove, and
organised training and awareness - for field-level FD staff,
local villagers and schoolchildren. Recommendations were
made for the future.
Community-based Mangrove Conservation and Management
Development and demonstration of a restoration
technique: One of the outcomes of the 1992 scientist
survey of international mangrove sites was a four-year
(1993-1996) MSSRF project at Pichavaram, Tamil Nadu,
for the conservation and rehabilitation of mangrove
An artist's viel-j'of the mangrove restoration technique
introduced by MSSRF under the ICEF-supported project.
ecosystems. It was supported by CIDA (Canadian
International Development Agency) under its Small
Project Environmental Fund (SPEF). By the time the
project ended, in May 1996, it had developed an effective
technique to restore mangrove degradation.
Joint Mangrove Management: In May 1996, a larger
mangrove project ("Coastal wetlands: mangrove
conservation and management") covering the four east
coast states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and
West Bengal was launched, with support from the India-
Canada Environment Facility (lCEF). The project applies
the technique of Joint Mangrove Management initiated
earlier at Pichavaram with the active participation of
mangrove communities and the respective State Forest
Departments. The project will conclude in 2003 in three
states, and in Orissa in 2004. The activities and
achievements of this ICEF-supported project are
discussed in this publication in detail.
Biotechnological Research in Mangroves: As a follow-up to
the establishment of the Mangrove Genetic Resources Centre
at Pichavaram, the Department of Biotechnology in 1992 asked
the MSSRF to prepare a larger project for initiating
biotechnological research in mangroves. This project included
three components: a) genetic mapping and modification;
b) biomonitoring and bioremediation; c) micro-propagation.
This research is still in progress, since on the basis of Phase I
of this project the DBT sanctioned a larger project under India's
Ninth Five-Year Plan. Much of the research is can'ied out in
the splendidly equipped N I Vavilov Research and Training
Centre for Sustainable Management of Biological Diversity
at the MSSRF in Chennai.
Thus, MSSRF's work on mangroves is many-faceted and
multi-pronged, and implemented through local, national and
international projects. These are described in the pages that
3. Global Network of Mangrove Genetic Resource Centres
3.1 Chennai Workshop (1991)
Following Dr. Swaminathan's remarks at the 1989 Tokyo
workshop on climate change, sea level rise and the need for
anticipatory research on mangroves, an international project
formulation workshop was held in Chennai from January 15
to 19, 1991, with generous support from Japan and the UK
through the lITO.
The project formulated at the workshop aimed at developing
a global network of genetic resources centres for adaptation
to sea level rise. Experts from 16 countries, plus representatives
part in the workshop. They discussed the many dimensions of
the subject. Experts outlined the status of mangroves in India,
Indonesia, Viet Nam, Australia and Venezuela, and exchanged
information and views about mangrove resources, their
evaluation, utilisation and conservation. They discussed
current research requirements on mangroves.
The workshop participants urged the setting up of a global
network of genetic resources centres, supported by training
and information systems and coordinating mechanisms under
ITTO auspices. The MSSRF's Centre for Research on
Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (CRSARD)
in Chennai was to serve as the network's executive agency.
The network was designed to
Develop a representative network of sites for the
conservation of biodiversity
Investigate and maintain the genetic diversity of species
represented at local and biogeographic regional scales
Organise genetic and cytogenetic research to understand
the genetic architecture of mangrove germplasms
Train gene bank managers, restoration ecologists and
allied professionals.
Set up information and communication systems
Carry out social science research by establishing links
with social anthropologists and geographers
Organise national, regional and international workshops
at periodic intervals. Special emphasis should be given
to the organization of travelling workshops to determine
the sites of a global network.
The ITTO's Governing Council which met in May 1991
approved Phase I of an IITO-MSSRF project to establish a
network of four mangrove genetic resources conservation
centres (MGRCC). The primary aim of these centres would
be to conserve representative samples of genetic diversity in
all of the world's known mangrove tree species. The first phase
would have three components:
Identify sites for conservation of mangrove genetic
Organise a Trainers'
Training Programme at
MSSRF to develop a cadre
of well-trained managers
for genetic resource
Develop a Mangrove
Ecosystem Information
Service (MEIS)
In September 1991, ITTO
agreed to sponsor Phase I with
financial support from Japan.
3.2 Identifying Sites for MGRCCs (1992)
Consequent to lITO's approval and sponsorship, MSSRF in
October 1991 invited recommendations on potential sites for
the proposed MGRCC. Nine countries in South and Southeast
Asia, Oceania, and West and Central Africa recommended 23
sites. During April-May and September-October 1992, two
batches of scientists visited the sites to evaluate their suitability
The table below lists the sites visited by the two batches of
Papua New Guinea - Saglau, Los Negros, Djaul island,
Baimaru, Bootless Bay
Philippines - Pagbilao and Ulugan Bay
Indonesia - Sembi lang, Cilacap,
Malaysia - Sepilok, Rejang, Lobaa Pulau,
Thailand - Ranong
India - Chorao Island, Pichavaram,
Coring a, Bhitarkanika
Cameroon - Mouanko Estuary Delta
Senegal - Saloum Estuary Delta
Pakistan - Khaddi, Shah BundeI'
The sites were evaluated on the basis of pre-determined
criteria. To be specific - genetic, ecological, physiological,
socio-political, economic and anthropogenic factors,
environmental features, potential for both in situ and ex situ
conservation of biodiversity, human resources, reconnaissance
and monitoring facilities, land size (a minimum of 100 ha),
land tenure (ownership of land), accessibility to the site.
The evaluation was conducted separately for each site. The
teams met in Chennai in April and May 1992 to exchange
views and experiences and standardise evaluation procedure.
Training manual on
conservation of mangrove
genetic resources.
The second part of the
programme (March 16-
May 22), held in Chennai,
consisted of lectures and
practicals and field trips
to mangrove sites. As part of the programme, every participant
prepared a "dissertation" on a National Mangrove Forest
Conservation Strategy for his country. It was expected that
this would help the authorities concerned to develop a Charter
for Mangroves in their respective countries. Mr Mai Sy Tuan
of Viet Nam, whose dissertation was adjudged the best, was
awarded the N I Vavilov Biodiversity Medal and a cash prize.
was preparatory, and held
in the various home
countries of participants.
They were to identify
threats to genetic
resources at "hot spot
locations" in their
countries that needed
urgent attention. They
were also to prepare an
inventory of their
countries' genetic
heritage in mangrove
3.3 Training of Trainers (1992)
The final report of the "Travelling workshops to mangrove
forests in south and southeast Asia, Oceania and West and
Central Africa" was published in 1994. In a preface to the
report, Dr. Swaminathan said "For sustained improvement and
utilisation of mangrove forest genetic resources, it is essential
to conserve the existing mangrove species and the genetic
diversity within them ... An integrated global strategy is
required to conserve and enhance biological diversity in
mangrove ecosystems. The collection and preservation of
mangrove genetic resources is the first important step towards
this end."
Four sites werefinally recommended as MGRCC - Baimaru
(Papua New Guinea), Sembi/allg (Illdollesia), Bhitarkallika
(India) alld Mouallko (Cameroon).
A three-month international training programme for mangrove
trainers, "the first of its kind in the world," was held from
February IS to May 22, 1992, mostly in Chennai, as part of
the project to set up a global network of MGRCCs. The
programme aimed at "developing a cadre of professionals well-
versed in the art and science of genetic conservation with
reference to mangroves".
Some 20 experts from 12 countries attended the programme.
The first month of the programme (February IS-March 13)
Mangrove forest il/ 8aimaru, Papua New Guinea, visited by scientists selecting potential MGRCC sites.
Above: Mangrove ecology was one of the
lecture topics at the 1992 "training of train-
ers" programme in Chennai.
Left: Kandelia candel in blossom.
network across countries so that a global
grid of mangrove genetic research and
conservation centres could be promoted.
The training programme led to a SOO-page
14-chapter training manual on
"Conservation of mangrove genetic
resources." It was brought out in 1994 by
the MSSRF and the lITO.
3.4. Mangrove Ecosystem
Information Services (1992)
The training programme emphasised genetic conservation at
three levels: the ecosystem as a whole (conservation of the
habitat); between species; and within a particular species. A
sampling of the lecture topics - Ecology of mangroves;
genetics and improvement of forest trees; assessment of genetic
resources and diversity; the effects of light, temperature,
salinity and tidal changes on the photosynthetic rates of
mangrove plants; socio-economic aspects of mangrove
ecosystems; application of remote sensing in the study of
mangrove ecosystem; genetic classification, evaluation,
cataloguing and data base management; development of a
National Mangrove Genetic Resources Conservation Strategy.
It was hoped that the three-month training programme would
help participants organise similar training programmes at the
country level; also, that it would enable a collaborative research
A Mangrove Ecosystem Information Service (ME1S),
established at the MSSRF office in Chennai in 1992 is one of
the components of the IITO-MSSRF project to set up a global
network of MGRCCs.
ME IS has global, regional and national components. At the
global level. MEIS helps to disseminate information on
available mangrove genetic resources. At the regional level. it
helps link regional genetic resources centres with genetic
enhancement centres. At the national level, it provides policy-
makers with information they need for the conservation of
coastal ecosystems in general, and mangrove ecosystems in
particular. Besides. MEIS promotes research on the genetics,
cytogenetics, taxonomy and physiology of mangroves and
other associated species.
The MEIS consists of four distinct database. The design of
these database is based on guidelines provided at an
international consultation held in January 1991, chaired by
Dr Robert Valantin, Director of the Information Sciences
Division of the IDRC, Canada.
a) Mangrove Experts Database (MANEXP) : It includes
the names of 560 experts from 61 countries. Data records
follow the UNESCO format used to create an expert
directory in 1984, and provide information about the
expert's name, address, institution and area of
b) Mangrove Bibliographic Database (MANBIB):
Contains mangrove literature abstracts and references
from 1975 to the present. More than 5,000 entries cover
every area of interest related to mangroves. The records
are compiled from articles, monographs, meetings,
conferences and books.
c) Mangrove Resources Database (MANRES): A directory
of 22 core mangrove sites, MANRES includes
comprehensive data about these sites besides national and
regional data, and information on geographic and
biological aspects of mangroves. MANRES includes
colour images of sites and site maps from nine mangrove-
rich countries.
d) Mangrove Genetic Variability Database (MANVAR):
MANVAR is a database on species, sub-species and intra-
specific level variation and includes images, floral
diagrams and morphological details.
MSSRF also serves as the India Regional Center of the Global
Mangrove Database and Information System (GLOMIS),
supported by the International Society for Mangrove
Ecosystems (lSME). GLOMIS aims at collecting and
disseminating worldwide, scientific information on various
aspects of mangrove ecology, mangrove resources and resource
utilization patterns and practices. This creates and strengthens
links between the scientific community and mangrove
managers. It also identifies gaps in the scientific knowledge
of mangrove ecology and its dynamics.
The India Regional Center of GLOMIS at MSSRF provides
Bibliographic references of published information on all
aspects of mangrove wetlands of the Indian Ocean region
Comprehensive information of scientists and
professionals active in mangrove ecosystem research and
management in the Indian Ocean region
A list of institutions and organizations actively involved
in mangrove research and management
Bibliography of information on genetic research with
special emphasis on Indian Ocean species
The India Regional Center maintains databases on mangrove
experts and mangrove bibliography covering the period from
1975 to 1993. For the period from 1993 to 1999, data are
downloaded from various sources such as ASFA and AGRIS.
Supplementary Internet searches and direct contacts with
experts are other sources of information. All the collected data
are scrutinized and screened, and relevant records entered in
the GLOMIS database.
MSSRF databases contain literature records and data on many mangrove sites 1V0rldlVide.
4. Restoration of Degraded Mangrove Wetlands:
The Pioneering Work in Pichavaram (1993-1996)
Between 1993 and 1996, MSSRF carried out a project at
Pichavaram, Tamil Nadu, for the conservation and
rehabilitation of mangrove ecosystems. The project was
supported by the CIDA Small Project Environment Fund.
Pichavaram is located 200 km south ofChennai in Tamil Nadu
state. Covering some 1,400 ha, the mangrove forest of
Pichavaram is traversed by a large number of channels and
creeks that connect the Coleroon estuary in the south with the
Vellar estuary in the north. Thirteen species of exclusive
mangrove flora have been recorded in the mangrove wetland.
It could be classified into three zones - Rlzizoplzora. Al'icennia
and Salleda.
In 1994, about 565 ha of the Pichavaram mangrove wetland
was regarded as degraded (increased from 70 ha in 1930).
Thus 495 ha of mangrove area had degraded over a period of
60 years. MSSRF researchers who studied the problem of
mangrove degradation and its causes came up with a technique
to restore the degraded mangroves.
What caused the degradation? The FD said it was because of
cattle grazing and tree felling by villagers. MSSRF studies
indicate, however, that grazing
was heavy only in the peripheral
area, but degradation was severe
in the middle portion of the
mangroves, which was
inaccessible to cattle.
Ecological studies were carried
out by this project of "coupe
felling" at Pichavaram between
1910 and the late 1960s.
"Coupe felling" is a system of
forest management whereby trees are felled on a rotation basis
every 20 or 30 years for revenue generation. This was the
main cause of degradation.
Studies indicated that coupe felling exposed large areas of
mangrove wetland to sunlight and evaporation of soil water.
As a result, soil in the coupe-felled area shrunk, changing the
flat topography into a trough shape. Tidal water entered the
trough-shaped portions and became stagnant. Evaporation of
stagnant water increased soil salinity to a level lethal to
Changes in the biophysical condition of mangrove forests due to combined effect of
"coupe felling" and reduced inflow of freshwater
Clear felling through coupe
Exposure of the mangrove Evaporation of soil water
Stagnation of tidal water
Development of trough
shaped topography
Subsidence of sediment
Development of hyper-
saline condition
Reduction in the periodicity
and quantity of freshwater
No natural regeneration
Degraded area
Loss of saline sensitive
mangroves. As a result, no regeneration of
mangrove plants was seen in the coupe-
felled area.
The MSSRF developed a simple
technology to restore degraded mangrove
areas. A canal system, consisting of main
and feeder canals, was designed and dug
in the degraded area. The main canals were
connected to natural canals nearby. This
enabled tidal water to flow freely in and
out of the degraded area (instead of
stagnating), thus decreasing soil salinity.
Planting mangrove saplings in the
degraded area completed the task of
restoration. This technique was
demonstrated successfully in a 10 ha plot
at Pichavaram between 1993 and 1996.
(However, the canals have to be constantly
monitored, desilted whenever necessary,
and protected.)
The Ministry of Environment and Forests,
Government of India, has accepted the
mangrove restoration technology
developed by MSSRF after a thorough
evaluation. A sub-committee of the
Ministry visited the mangrove sites in
Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh,
interacted with project staff, the forest
department and villagers and concluded
that the project's method is the best
available to restore degraded mangrove
areas. The Ministry has now included this
restoration method in its National Action
Plan for mangroves.
Degraded mangmve forest at MGR Nagar. Pichavaram .
The same forest after restoration.
0.5 --
130 140 150
This sketch illustrates the stunted growth of trees in the central coupe-felled mangrove forest area.
5. Joint Mangrove Management:
ICEF-Supported Project (From 1996)
Activity sites of lCEF-sllpported JMM projects in Tamil Nadll.
Andl1ra Pradesl1. Orissa and West Bengal.
.0 Poverty is a root cause of mangrove over-exploitation, so a
number of socio-economic development measures are being
undertaken. Self-help groups of men and women are being
the "livelihood security of
coastal communities" and the
"ecological security of coastal
The September 1995 project
proposal noted the drawbacks
of many development strategies
adopted in the past for
The FD stressed only the
forest component of
mangrove wetlands and
paid inadequate attention to the hydrological and
sedimentary processes responsible for the stability of the
mangrove environment.
The inter-relationship between the health of the mangrove
wetlands and land and water use practices in land adjacent
to mangrove wetlands was neglected.
The importance of participation by the local community
was neglected. As a result, community involvement in
mangrove conservation and enhancement was lacking.
The project proposed by MSSRF is people-centred, process-
oriented and science-based. It seeks to build the capacity of
local communities, voluntary organizations, grassroot-Ievel
democratic institutions, the FD, MSSRF and government
agencies to restore, manage and conserve mangrove wetlands
through participatory analysis and action.
The project's most important output is a model for Joint
Mangrove Management (JMM), to be adopted and replicated
by the Forest Department which manages mangrove wetlands
in the four states.
JMM is presently being implemented in 31 demonstration
villages in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
"Integrated Approach" to Mangrove
Conservation and Management
The project's integrated approach to mangrove conservation
and management is visible in its wide range of activities -
technical, socio-economic, administrative. The approach
encompasses many implementing agencies, which include all
the stakeholders: the mangrove communities, MSSRF, the FD,
other government departments, banks, rural agencies such as
panchayats, NGOs, schools, and private companies.
What are these activities? The project is restoring degraded
mangroves through an innovative canal-system technique and
by planting saplings in the degraded area. Villagers are taking
active part in the restoration, and guarding against cattle
grazing of mangroves and destructive fishing .
Bay of Bengal "
, .'
Integrated Approach: Enthused by the success of the 1993-
1996 CIDA-supported project in Pichavaram, MSSRF
submitted a project proposal on "Coastal wetlands: mangrove
conservation and management" to the India-Canada
Environment Facility for support in September 1995. It was
approved by ICEF. The project seeks to "enhance national
capacity and national action" in the conservation and
sustainable management of coastal mangrove wetlands. It aims
to build the capacities of local communities, government
agencies and grassroots level institutions to restore, conserve
and utilize the mangrove wetlands in a sustainable manner.
ICEF accepted the proposal.
The project began in 1996 in the Pichavaram and Muthupet
mangroves of Tamil Nadu, in co-operation with the Forest
Department of Tamil Nadu and other stakeholders. The
following year, the project was established in the Krishna and
Godavari mangroves (including Coringa) of Andhra Pradesh.
Soon after, it was set up in the Mahanadi delta and the Devi
river mouth of Orissa, and the mangroves of Sunderbans, West
The project will conclude in Tamil Nadu. Andhra Pradesh and
West Bengal in 2003; it will continue in Orissa till 2004. The
success of the project will ensure a symbiotic link between
Below: A central aspect of JMM is the restoration of degraded
mangroves by constructing an innovative canal-system, and
planting fresh mangrove saplings.
This graphic gives an idea of networking among stakeholders in
Andhra Pradesh - crucial to the technique of Joint Mangrove
Management introduced by the ICEF-supported project.
formed to facilitate loans and derive benefits from
joint action. To reduce pressure on mangroves, the
project is encouraging the creation of individual and
community wood lots through the planting of saplings
of fast-growing trees. Kerosene stoves and smokeless
stoves are being distributed to women so that they
don't use mangrove wood to light kitchen fires.
Training is being provided to impart job skills to men
and women. Public awareness on mangrove
conservation is being promoted through posters, folk
plays, hoardings, and mangrove clubs in schools.
"Exposure trips" are being organised to mangrove
A working model for JMM will be one of the project's
important practical contributions to mangrove
management. JMM aims at sharing of participation
and experiences in mangrove management by the FD,
the mangrove user community (particularly the
women), related government departments and NGOs
in all mangrove management functions - resource
mapping, planning, regeneration, protection, and
. ".
_.",.r." .;... "
r.' ~
".;/ -:. ~" .
.- - / .~.
5.1. The Process of Joint Mangrove
Why is the cOllcept of JMM described as "process-oriented,
people-celltred and science-based"?
Process-oriented because JMM consists of a series of steps,
which accommodate changes in perception, socio-economic
circumstances and problems, and the priorities of stakeholders.
People-centred because in JMM, the local community plays a
dominant role in the decision-making process and gains
partnership status with Government agencies in conserving
and managing mangrove wetlands. Science-based because in
JMM, mangrove management activities are based on a sound
understanding of the ecological processes in and around the
mangrove wetlands.
The process-oriented approach to JMM was worked out in
Pichavaram, Tamil Nadu, in September 1997 after several
meetings, discussions and workshops. A similar approach is
also being adopted in the other three states. It consisted of the
following steps:
a) Situation analysis: Study of the resources and resource
utilization patterns of mangrove wetlands; identifying the
degree of degradation and its causes.
b) Participatory mral appraisal: Residents of the
community are encouraged to analyse their own major
concerns relating to mangrove conservation and to socio-
economic development in general. PRA is also a tool to
develop rapport among stakeholders.
c) Organising community-based institutions in the
demonstration village: A village-level institution is
organised, which provides a platform for stakeholders to
discuss major concerns and take collective decisions to
solve them. Examples are the VDMC in Tamil Nadu, the
EDC and the VSS in Andhra Pradesh, the LJSS in Orissa.
Marginalised groups including women and the poor take
part in decision-making. Each institution elects an
executive committee. It includes representatives from the
village, the FD and the MSSRF.
d) Identification of a mangrove management unit: A
mangrove management unit or MMU is an area of
mangrove wetland that is traditionally utilised by the
people of that village for livelihood and subsistence.
Villagers, forest officials and MSSRF staff demarcate this
area for joint restoration and protection.
e) Preparation of micro-plan: For each demonstration
village, the community and the FD prepare a micro-plan.
The problem: Getting rural folk to analyse and drive their own development. The solution - PRA (Participatory Rural
Appraisal). Residents of a village list and analyse their problems and possible solutions.
Above: This old woman has got into the spirit of PRA.
Right: The village community discusses a micro-plan for
mangrove conservation and socio-economic development.
Right, below: The Forest Department plays a crucial role in JMM.
A project village celebrates World Forest Day.
MSSRF facilitates the process. The plan details activities
concerning mangrove conservation and management and
socio-economic development. The plan helps mobilise
funds and manpower from the villages concerned and
fixes responsibilities for results.
/1 Implementation of the micro-plan: Stakeholders
implement activities with technical support from MSSRF
which also helps to mobilise funds. Funds obtained for
the micro-plan are deposited in the accounts of the village-
level institution. It is accountable for the funds provided.
g) Monitoring and evaluation: Monitoring helps assess
progress and performance of various project components
and effect course correction. Quarterly progress reports
are reviewed by the project directorate, also by an internal
management committee. Indicators of progress have been
developed to facilitate monitoring.
5.2. Joint Mangrove Management,
Tamil Nadu
The ICEF-supported project is being implemented in Tamil
Nadu in four hamlets of the Pichavaram mangrove wetland
(MGR Nagar, Yadakku Pichavaram, Kalaingar Nagar and
T.S. Pettai) and four hamlets of Muthupet (Yeerankoil,
Manganangkadu, Karisaikkadu and T. Yadakadu).
The Pichavaram mangrove wetland covers three reserve forests
(Killai, Pichavaram and Pichavaram extension area) and a total
area of 1,471 ha. This includes 399.42 ha of healthy mangroves
and 565.05 ha (about 60%) of degraded mangroves. The
remaining area consists of water body, sand dune and casuarina.
The people belong to 17 hamlets (nine fishing hamlets with a
population of 4,760 and eight farming hamlets with a
population of 17,780).
The wetland has 13 exclusive mangrove species. About 208
tons of prawn, 19 tons of fish and 9 tons of crab worth a total
of Rs 90 lakhs is harvested on an average every year. With
2,600 fishers sharing this resource, the average income per
fisher is about Rs 3,500/year.
The Muthupet mangrove wetland has six reserve forests with
a total area of 12,020 ha including 1,855 ha of healthy
mangrove forests and 7,180 ha of degraded mangroves.
A major project achievement in Tamil Nadu relates to
identifying the real causes of mangrove conservation and
restoration. Trough-shaped topography caused by "coupe
felling,' the "bunding method" of fishing by lrulars, cattle
grazing and drastic reduction in fresh water flow were
identified as the main causes of degradation. A total of 396 ha
was restored through JMM -246 ha in Pichavaram, and 150
ha in Muthupet.
Canal construction to ensure free tidal flushing was taken up
in all restoration areas, and more than four million propagules
were planted.
As a part of the CIDA-supported project, biophysical surveys
were conducted in Pichavaram and Muthupet. These indicated
structural changes in the mangrove wetlands due to past
management practices. Research was also carried out on
geomorphological, hydrological and sedimentological
aspects .. This showed that every year, a sand bar is formed
near the mouth of estuaries between July and September due
to reduction in fresh water flow. The sand bar reduces tidal
water inflow into the mangroves, creating unfavourable
conditions for fish production and for sustenance of mangrove
forests. A large amount of fresh water flow for a longer period
is necessary to prevent the deposit of wave-driven sediment
in the mouth region. Available data indicated that during the
1930s, 73 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of fresh water
was released into the Coleroon river, from where it reached
Pichavaram mangroves through backwaters. This got reduced
to 31 TMC in the 1980s and further to just 3 to 5 TMC in the
1990s. Research on hydrodynamic parameters like tidal
variation was used to design and construct a canal system that
would facilitate tidal flushing and restoration of degraded
A group of project villagers in Tamil Nadu is busy planting mangrove seedlings to help restore a mangrove-degraded area.
To create an economic stake in mangrove restoration, crab
fattening in the canals as an income-generation activity was
undet1aken in Pichavaram. Two commercially important crabs,
Scylla serrata and S.oceanica, are found in large numbers in
Pichavaram. They are commonly referred to as mud or
mangrove crabs. They fetch a price three or four times higher
if they pass the moulted stage and their weight exceeds 500g.
It is easy to convert the moulted crabs, which have a soft shell
and watery meat, into hard-shelled solid-meat crabs by
confining them in a natural brackishwater environment for
about four weeks.
Crab fattening technology in the restoration canal was
demonstrated with the participation of five families of MGR
Nagar, and the permission of the Tamil Nadu Forest
Palm-candy production is an interesting micro-enterprise
encouraged by the project in Vadakku Picha varam.
Department. After one harvest, each family made a profit of
about Rs 4,000 in 30 days. However, the natural stock of water
crabs is diminishing; supply of water crabs depends on the co-
operation of a few private companies that have a strong
monopoly over them; constant vigil is needed against poachers;
and it is a strenuous operation that needs endurance.
In the area of socio-economics, several micro-enterprises or
income-generation activities were encouraged in project
villages. These can be grouped into three types:
Increasing profit from current income-generation
activities: For example, fishing craft and gear were
introduced among fishing communities that had merely
engaged in hand-fishing. Among farming communities,
irrigation societies were formed for proper utilisation of
ground water to increase income from groundnut
cultivation. Intercropping with groundnut was introduced
in casuarina plantations to facilitate an annual income from
groundnuts and bulk income from casuarinas after five
Additional income-generation activities: Several micro-
enterprises were encouraged. An example is palm candy
production in Yadakku Pichavaram. A male and a female
member from each of 10 families were trained to produce
and market palm candy. A trial run showed high promise
of profitable high-quality palm candy production. A palm
candy production unit was set up with the help of the
Palmyrah Workers Development Society, Marthandam,
Kanyakumari district. Likewise, cotton coir-rope making
A simple crab-fattening technology was introduced in Picha varam, to increase income from crabs.
Fishermen below are han'esting the fattened crabs.
initiated in MGR Nagar, Ooriculture in Kalaingar Nagar
and medicinal plant cultivation in Vadakku Pichavaram
have demonstrated excellent potential for income
Sea fishing: Fishing communities are being encouraged
to opt for sea fishing to raise their income as well as to
reduce the pressure on mangrove fishery resources.
The process of JMM described earlier was implemented in
the eight demonstration hamlets - four in Pichavaram, four
in Muthupet - to carry out both mangrove management and
socio-economic development. It consisted, to put it simply, of
PRAs, formation of Village Development and Mangrove
Councils (VDMCs), identification of MMUs, preparation of
micro-plans and implementation of micro-plans.
Case Study ill ]MM: MGR Nagar, Pichavaram, Tamil Nadu
This case-study of MGR Nagar, olle ofthefour demollstratioll
hamlets at Pichavaralll, Tamil Nadu, illustrates the project's
methodology alld activities ill mangrove cOllservation alld
managemellt through ]MM.
The hamlet of MGR Nagar came into being in 1997. It has a
total population of 494, all of whom belong to the lrular tribe.
Illiteracy is about 99%, and the people's assets are few. Their
main occupation is fishing in the mangrove waters. The fishing
is done not by boats and nets but by groping (searching in
knee-deep water for prawn) and "bunding", a method of
confining fish during high tide and capturing it during low
tide (a method that impacts adversely on mangroves). The
annual per capita income is about Rs 9,000. Most of the people
take loans from money-lenders during the rainy season (when
the groping method of fishing is not possible) to meet
emergency expenses or social commitments. The loans are
conditional on "sale" of fish and prawn to the money-lenders
at arbitrary prices that are less than half the market value. This
condition effectively perpetuates poverty by limiting income.
A PRA at MGR Nagar identified the people's main concerns
which they prioritized as follows:
I. Lack of a community certificate
2. No boats and nets for fishing, and chronic indebtedness
3. No primary school in the hamlet
4. Degraded state of the mangrove wetland.
5. No legal entitlement to fishing
6. No legal documents for house sites
7. No fuel wood resources
8. Flooding of the hamlet during the monsoon
9. Gruelling nature of their occupation: no rest and chronic
The project set up a VDMC. Its general body has 154 members
(two members from each of 77 families). A 82 ha MMU was
forn1ed, with 39 ha of healthy mangroves and 39 ha of degraded
area. The management activities planned were to restore the
degraded area, maintain the canal system, and protect
mangroves against grazing during the monsoon.
Micro-plans were prepared for the periods Ist September 1998
to 31 March 1999, I" April 1999 to 31 March 2000, and
I sl April 2000 to 31 December 2000, and a perspective plan
for I January to 31 December 200 I. Several of the people's
concerns were addressed through joint discussion, planning
and action. The following were the results achieved:
The rich green. wholesome look of restored mongroves in MGR Nagar, Pichavaram.
Above: Coir-rope making has excellent potential for income generation.
Below: MSSRF and Forest Department staff hold a community meeting
to discuss plans for the future.
a) Mangrove Conservation and Management: Restoration
of 19 ha of degraded area was completed with technical
and financial support from MSSRF. Canal construction
work to facilitate free tidal flushing was completed in all
39 ha of degraded mangrove area. Some 400,000 seedlings
of Avicennia marina were planted in the restored area
between January 1999 and February 200 I. The work was
carried out by the VDMC with technical guidance and
supervision from MSSRF and the FD. 80% of the
seedlings survived. Canal design was modified in a 2ha
patch of mangrove in the restored area, where seedling
survival was poor. The idea was to improve flow of water
to the patch. The entire management unit was protected
against cattle grazing and the "bunding" method of fishing
by the residents of MGR Nagar. A patrol boat bought by
the VDMC enabled effective protection.
After seeing the active participation by the people of MGR
Nagar in restoring and conserving mangrove wetlands,
the Tamil Nadu FD allotted another 20 ha of degraded
mangrove area for restoration, and deposited Rs 240,000
in the VDMC account. The villagers restored this area
too, and planted some 200,000 seedlings of
Avicelllzia sp., which they have since been
maintaining and protecting against grazing.
b) Socio-economic development: A series of
wide-ranging activities raised the incomes
and skills of the people of MGR Nagar,
solved some of their problems, and injected
hope and energy into the community.
Self-help groups (SHGs) have encouraged
members to save and thereby create a joint
resource that facilitates bank loans. The SHG
members have so far saved Rs 200,000. The
Central Bank of India, Killai, extended a loan of
Rs 20,000 to a women's SHG. It has helped them
to buy a new boat and net, repair an old boat, and
start a small grocery shop. A Rs. 65,000 loan was
extended to another women's SHG to start a coil'
rope-making unit and to repay loans taken from
money lenders. A Rs 125,000 loan has been
requested by an all-male SHG to buy a
mechanised boat for sea fishing. These are just a
few examples.
Skill Training: Forty male members of the
VDMC were given training for three months to
catch prawn using cast nets. This work was
supported by the Ecotechnology Centre of
MSSRF. Forty three families in all have been
helped to improve their fishing capacity.
Liberation from money-lenders: The SHGs
playa critical role in poverty alleviation. They
have freed 20 members from the tyranny of
money-lenders by giving them loans to clear
debts. These members now get fair prices for the
fish they catch. The VDMC also provides loans
from its community fund.
Primary school: A primary school has been opened in a
concrete building at a cost of Rs 128,000. Fiftytwo students
have been enrolled in the school. Free noon meals are served
to all students. The school is managed by a committee. It has
mobilised Rs 100,000 and deposited the money in a bank to
help meet recurring expenses.
Community certificates: The residents of MGR Nagar were
keen on community certificates, which they couldn't obtain
despite efforts over 30 years, because they lacked proof of
their "scheduled tribe" status. An ethnographic study
conducted by the project staff furnished the proof the revenue
authorities needed to recognise the community as "Irulars".
Certificates have now been issued to the residents.
Legal documents for house sites: MGR Nagar was
established in 1977 on land provided by the government. But
some of the families had not received legal documents
establishing their ownership. At the project's instance, the local
tahsildar examined the issue and provided documents to the
families concerned.
5.3. Joint Mangrove Management, Andhra
Energetic promotion of mangrove awareness and active
community participation have characterised the project's work
in Andhra Pradesh, which focuses on five mangrove villages
of the Godavari delta (Matlapalem, Dindu, Kobarichettupeta,
Gadimoga and Bhairavalanka) and four villages of the Krishna
delta (Dheenadayalupuram, Zinkapalem, Nali and
Project acti vities started in 1997. To select nine demonstration
villages for the project, Rapid Rural Appraisals (RRAs) were
conducted in as many as 46 villages in the Godavari and 27
villages in the Krishna. After careful data screening, the nine
villages mentioned above were selected. The project now
covers some 1,835 villagers and 48 self-help groups in these
villages, plus two youth groups who depend on mangroves
for their day-to-day living.
Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRAs) were conducted
between August 1997 and February 1998 in the demonstration
villages to collect basic data in these villages with the help of
local communities and identify concerns relating to mangrove
management. The PRAs yielded valuable information about
socio-economics, demography, utilization of natural resources,
village history, Government-NGO-community relations, and
crop seasons. Standard PRA tools such as social mapping,
resource mapping and Venn diagrams were tapped and applied.
The project carried out restoration work in 280 ha of mangrove
forests by planting 300,000 nursery- raised mangrove saplings
in the Krishna and the Godavari areas with the active
participation of the FD, local institutions and local
communities. In these restored areas, natural regeneration of
nearly 3 million seedlings has taken place because of tidal
flushing facilitated by canal construction. It is also noticed
that in the restored areas, further degradation has been arrested.
A vigorous mangrove awareness drive was undertaken in the
nine villages among the local population, government officials,
NGOs, panchayat members and schoolchildren. Many media
ideas and tools were tapped such as street plays, newsletters
and pamphlets in Telugu, wall-board paintings, mangrove clubs
in schools, video documentaries, meetings and exhibitions.
Fixed deposits worth Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 have been organised
in the names of several schools; the interest on this money
finances annual competitions on mangroves. Several "exposure
trips" of different kinds have been organised for mangrove
communities as well as for FD and NGO personnel.
Socio-economic benchmark surveys were then conducted to
study the socio-economic status in the nine villages and the
people's dependence on mangroves. Sravanti, an NGO,
The project in Andhra Pradesh launched a vigorous mangrove awareness drive through street plays, like this one in Matlapalem.
assisted with data collection and analysis. The Osmania
University's College of Social Work assisted in the preparation
of the report.
The next step was institution-building for management. Eco-
Development Committees (EDCs) and Vana Samrakshana
Samitis (VSS) were set up in the nine villages in collaboration
with the FD. These were either new groups or adaptations of
existing groups. Membership fees were fixed and collected.
These helped establish village funds.
These committees then discussed micro-plans for the nine
demonstration villages, focusing on half a dozen important
issues: mangrove conservation, mangrove restoration, land-
based alternatives, poverty alleviation, reducing dependency
on mangroves, and village development. The first annual work
plans were finalised in the villages between October 1998 and
January 1999; besides executive body members from the EDC/
VSS, forest, fisheries, district and local officials and
representatives of NABARD took part. Ways and means of
leveraging support for implementing the micro-plans were
discussed. So far, 16 micro-plans have been drawn up in the
demonstration villages during the past
four-and-a-half years.
In view of the thorough and elaborate
preparation mentioned above, it's no
surprise that a large number of activities
- relating to socio-economics in general
and mangroves in particular - were
implemented in the nine villages. In
Matlapalem for example, activities ranged
from road-laying, street lighting, drinking
water supply, housing and boat repair to
assistance with milch cattle and the supply
of occupational tools such as fishing nets,
sewing machines and bicycles. These were
supported by project funds, also by
government agencies and NGOs. In Dindu,
the activities included a wasteland survey,
construction of a committee hall, and
drinking water supply.
The project has spent a total of Rs. 6.7
million and leveraged assistance worth
Rs.5.5 million from other agencies.
Training for capacity-building was a
continuous process. The EDC and VSS
held regular meetings to impart
participatory training in leadership skills,
group formation, gender concerns,
The problem in Bhairavalanka: no jobs or
incomes. Solution: Villagers were paid to
plant mangrove saplings in /5 ha of forest
land. They are being transported to theforest
land for the task.
resource mobilisation and banking. Field staff of the FD were
trained in sustainable development of EDCIVSS. Training on
GIS and remote sensing was organised in collaboration with
Anna University. Training on topographic surveys (considered
necessary to prepare a model management plan for the Krishna
mangroves) was organised in Hyderabad for seven forest
officials and four MSSRF staff.
Training activities were conducted in making coir ropes and
door mats, tailoring, fish and prawn pickle making, nursery
raising of mangrove saplings, candle-making and
vermicompost. Women's self-help groups were given special
briefings and exposure trips on micro-credit. Linkages with
other institutions were strengthened - both to empower the
local communities and leverage funds from other agencies for
implementing micro-plans.
Natural resource-based alternatives: To reduce the
dependence of local people on mangroves for firewood,
fencing, fodder and timber, land-based activities were
implemented in four JMM villages. A total of 62,000 seedlings
have been planted. The communities are being encouraged to
use Prosopis, palmyrah and coconut wastes as alternatives for
fuel and fencing. More than 100 c1l1tlas obtained from the FD,
and kerosene stoves bought with project funds, have been
distributed to the communities. Gas stoves were also provided,
the project and the villagers sharing the cost.
Mangrove restoration: The project conducted scientific studies
of mangrove ecology and the causes for degradation of
mangrove forests in the Godavari and Krishna. Of the 33,250-
odd ha of mangroves in the delta region of the Godavari river,
some 12,400 ha constitute healthy mangroves, and about 4,200
ha are degraded. In the Krishna delta, on the other hand,
mangroves occupy an area of about 25,000 ha. Of these, some
7,350 ha are dense, healthy mangroves, 15,300 ha are degraded.
The Godavari mangroves are degrading because of reduced
freshwater flow, formation of topographically elevated areas,
siltation of the Kakinada bay, pollution of the Corangi and
Gaderu rivers, overexploitation of the mangroves by the local
community for firewood, fodder, timber and fencing materials,
and shrimp culture in large areas of land adjoining the Godavari
The Krishna mangroves are degrading because of reduced
freshwater flow in the wake of heavy utilisation of the river,
decrease in sediment load - and consequently of nutrients
- into the mangroves, cyclones and storm surges (which have
led to siltation of drainage channels feeding the mangroves),
and formation of topographically elevated areas.
The project carried out restoration work in 280 ha of mangrove
forests by planting 300,000 nursery-raised mangrove saplings
in the Krishna and Godavari with the active participation of
the FD, local institutions and local communities. (Two
mangrove nurseries were set up during 1998 and 1999 in both
the Godavari and Krishna to meet the seed requirements for
planting in degraded mangrove forests. Nurseries were
essential because the seeds of Avicellllia and SOlllleratia are
too small for direct dibbling, also because these seeds are not
available during July-August before the southwest monsoon
- the right time to plant them in the forest. Further the survival
rate of nursery-raised sapling are higher than that of directly
dibbled propagules.)
In these restored areas, natural regeneration of nearly 3 million
seedlings has taken place because of tidal flushing facilitated
by canal construction. Further degradation has been arrested.
The canal system was preceded by a study of the hydrodynamic
processes in mangrove creeks, and data collection on tidal
amplitude, salinity and temperature variations.
This year, the people of Bhairavalanka and Matlapalem are
raising 40,000 saplings of Avicellllia marilla, A. officilla/is,
Project effort has led to a casuarina COlll//lUllityplantation ill Mat/apa/em which will reduce pressure 011mallgrove wood.
Exeoeearia agal/oella in the Godavari. In
the Krishna area, 200,000 seedlings are
being raised in Dheenadayalapuram. It's
mostly women who carry out the work of
raising seedlings in their own backyards.
The seedlings will be bought by the project
during July-August 2002.
People from the demonstration villages
have earned more than RS.5.2 million
through restoration and nursery-raising
Participatory mangrove conservation and
management: The FD has allotted the
entire area of the Coringa wildlife
sanctuary for protection of mangroves
through people's participation in 20 EDCs
that abut the sanctuary. Vegetation surveys
have been undertaken in the mangroves
of the Godavari and Krishna, mangrove
species including some rare and endemic
species have been identified and recorded,
and mangrove nurseries established with
the help of the community and the Forest
In Matlapalem, EDC members appraised
the Pollution Control Board about effluent
discharge from factories along the
Matlapalem canal on account of which
some fish died.
The project is helping establish a Mangrove
Genetic Resource Centre at Coringa.
Mangrove species such as Rllizopllora
apieulata, R. mueronata, Sonneratia
apetala, Aegieeras eornieulatum,
Xyloearpus 11l0llueeensis, Bruguiera
gymnorrlliza, Bruguiera parviflora,
Ceriops ragal, Xyloearpus granatum and
Kandelia kandel were raised in small
numbers to establish the genetic resource
centre. (Some of these species were planted
for the first time in Andhra Pradesh).
Propagules of Ceriops tagal and Braguiera
parviflora raised at Sunderbans, were
collected and established in the Coringa
resource centre, while Xyloearpus
granatum and Kandelia kandel were
obtained from mangroves in Orissa.
Right, top: Villagers in Dindu provide
voluntary labour to level land for a
comlllllnity plantatioll. Centre: Woman
from project village receives a kerosene
stove. She will no IOllger have to cllt
mangrove IVoodforfilel. Below: Restoratioll
callais built ill Bhairavalallka.
Project assistance with drinking water supply. Woman in project
area uses a shallow concrete well provided by the project.
Mangrove conservation and management:
Restoration and protection: In degraded mangrove areas of
five villages (Khandapatia, Kharinasi, Sanatubi, Kajalapatia
and Bandar) areas to be restored were identified in all the
demonstration villages. A detailed site inventory and analysis
revealed that grazing by buffaloes, excessive resource harvest
by local communities and conversion of mangroves were the resource conservation centre for mangrove plants. Its aim is
major causes for mangrove degradation. Seed stock of five in situ conservation of all mangrove species available in India
mangrove species (Rhizophora apiculata, Kandelia candel. and elsewhere. The center will thus serve as a mangrove gene
Braguiera cylindrica, Braguiera parviflora and Xylocatpus bank. After discussion with the FD, a site at Kansaridhia Forest
granatum) were collected from two forest blocks in the Block in the Mahanadi delta area was agreed on for the
Mahanadi delta and planted in the mangrove management units MGRCC. Pending development of this site, a nursery was
in the five villages. started at the FD nursery site in Jamboo to temporarily house
Mangrove Genetic Resource Conservation Centre available mangrove species for later transfer to the developed
(MGRCC): Owing to the fast depletion of some important MGRCC site. Fourteen mangrove species have been stocked
mangrove species, the FD requested MSSRF to set up a genetic in the nursery in polythene packs.
Women '.I' self-help groups discuss credit schemes.
5.4 Joint Mangrove Management, Orissa
The project is being implemented in 14 demonstration villages
(seven in the Mahanadi delta, Kendrapara district, and seven
in the Devi mouth site, Jagatsinghpur district). Every
demonstration village has a well-defined MMU. Mangrove
Forest Protection Committees (locally known as the Luna
Jungala Samrakshyana Samiti or LJSS) are the main local
implementing agency. Activities are being implemented as per
the micro-plans developed in each village.
Land-based alternatives: Local
communities in the project areas depend
heavily on mangrove forest resources to
meet their needs for fuel, building and
fencing materials, agricultural implements,
fodder for livestock, weaving materials etc.
Result: depletion of mangrove forests. To
provide the villagers with alternatives to
meet some of their basic needs, it was
decided to develop individual and
community wood lots with fast-growing
multi-purpose trees. Seeds of acacia, neem,
babool, eucalyptus, teak, sisso, casuarina,
coconut, arecanut and bamboo have been
planted in the villages. Consequently, an
area of 2.2 ha of common land and 11.8 ha
of hom stead plantation has been put under
tree cover.
Instead of buying seedlings from private
nurseries, farmers were encouraged to
develop their own nurseries and sell the
seedlings for raising plantations.
Community-based multi-purpose tree
species nurseries were established in all the
demonstration villages, either by individual
farmers or by the community as a whole.
To give womenfolk in the project area
alternatives to mangrove wood as kitchen
fuel, 436 improved portable chu/as
developed by the Orissa Renewable
Energy Department Authority (OREDA)
were introduced in the four villages. Each
chula costs Rs 260: the villagers contribute
Rs 50 per household, the project pays
Rs 2 IO. A mangrove dependency survey
indicated that the c1utlas had reduced fuel
consumption by 31% .
Training: Most members of the EDC and
the SHGs were given training in
accounting and record-keeping. Villagers
in Kajalapatia and Sandar were trained in
the methods and principles of raising
mangrove nurseries. Training in bee-
keeping and integrated pest management
in coconut were also organised.
Top right: Discussion between the project
and the cOI/I//lunity.
Above right: The Director of ICEF at
Kandarapapta village. where dry fish
production is a //lodest additional source of
Fauna-rich mangroves of Orissa
The mangroves of Orissa support 175 species of birds including migratory
ducks and geese, and the largest concentration of bare-headed geese in India.
There are 26 species of mammals, five species of amphibians, 44 species of
reptiles, several species of fishes and numerous species of invertebrates
(Pandav 1996, Daniels and Acharjyo 1997).
The important carnivores in Orissa's mangroves include the endangered
fish cat, Felis viverrina. and the leopard cat Fe/is benga/ensis. These
mangroves also constitute the last habitat of a sizable population of
endangered reptiles such as salt-water crocodile or Crocody/us porosus, the
Indian python or Python lIlo/ums. the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah),
the water monitor (Varanus sa/vator) and the Olive Ridley sea turtle,
Lepidoche/ys olivacea.
The coasts of Orissa, especially Gahirmatha and the river mouths of Devi
and Rushikulya, are the breeding grounds for over 600,000 turtles annually.
This area has been designated as the largest mass nesting rookery for this
species of turtle at the global level.
5.5 Joint Mangrove Management,
West Bengal
The MSSRF began operations in the Sunderbans, West BengaL
under its Coastal Wetlands Project only at the project's later
stages. Reason: the West Bengal FD had already introduced
participatory management systems in mangroves. The project
is being implemented entirely by the FD - no MSSRF staff
are located in the state.
The FD put up proposals for project interventions to strengthen
its ongoing JFM process. The proposals were studied by
MSSRF in consultation with the ICEF, and a framework for
project interventions was agreed on.
The project is being implemented in 15 villages from four
forest ranges of the 24 Parganas (South) Forest Division. In
II of these villages, existing Forest Protection Committees
(FPC) are the main implementing agency. In the other four,
specially set up "Beneficiary Committees" perform this
function. .
Mangrove plantations under the project are to be raised only
in non-forest lands controlled by zilla parishads. Community
members will get three-fourths of the produce of the
plantations; a quarter will go to the panchayat concerned.
Micro-plans prepared earlier by the FD and the community
have been revised jointly by the community, MSSRF and FD.
Forty five ha of degraded mangrove area were to be restored
by the FD under the ICEF -supported project. Actual area
covered up to 2000 A.D. was 45 ha.
Four mangrove conservation and management activities have
been taken up so far by the project:
a) Mangrove afforestation with community participation:
Some 300,000 seedlings were planted on 25 ha. Survival
rate: 25%. While the project bore the cost of the
plantations, management is being done by the forest
protection committees of participating villages.
b) Field trials on alternative regelleration techlliques: In
addition to the usual methods of afforestation, alternative
modes of regeneration (through stem cutting and
biotechnological methods) are being tried out.
c) Developing new techniques to raise mangrove Ilurseries:
This experiment seeks to discover ways to increase
productivity and growth in nurseries through the use of
biofertilisers, use of 9" polythene tubes for growing
seedlings in place of 4" polyphone tubes, and use of
"hyco pots" resting on stands to avoid twisting of roots.
d) Reillfroduction of threatened mangroves: A thousand
seedlings in each of four endangered mangrove species
(Heritiem minOl; Nipaji'uticans, Campa obol'{/ta, Carapa
molucellis) are being raised in a 9 ha plot to enhance the
natural stock of these species. Some other common
species like Sonnemtia apetala and Avieennia sp have
also been planted. Small channels have been dug for daily
tidal flushing wherever the species have been planted.
Average survival rate reported: 62%
Land.based alternatives and entry point activities: Entry-
point construction activities taken up in project villages, in
accordance with the stated concerns of the community, are:
five new freshwater ponds for irrigation, drinking water etc;
new irrigation canals in four villages; and tubewells for
drinking water to benefit about 150 families.
Farm forestry and horticulture development: Around
180,000 seedlings have been distributed to the mangrove
community for planting in a 100ha plot. Eight hundred fruit
grafts and 6,000 bamboo seedlings were also distributed.
Earlier, seedlings that will cover 100 ha of land with timber,
fuel wood and fodder trees were raised. Three thousand
seedlings of bamboo were planted in homestead land.
More than 170 bird species, including the brown-winged
kingfisher, are known to inhabit the Sunderbans mangrove
forests. The bird assemblage includes the globally threatened
lesser adjutant, and another threatened species, the masked'
finfoot. Twelve birds of prey co-exist and patrol the sky
overhead. The Sunderbans mangrove ecosystem is an
important wintering area for migratory birds, including
several species of shorebirds and gulls.
Tigers apart, the Sunderbans provides a critical habitat for
crocodiles, and for numerous species of fishes and
crustaceans that live, reproduce and spend their juvenile lives
among the mangrove roots. Freshwater dolphins can be
encountered in the waterways.
This habitat is also the living site for many mammals, the
most charismatic being the Royal Bengal Tiger. These tigers
Sunderbans - An Unique Ecosystem
"Sunderbans" derives its name from the mangrove species live and swim among mangrove islands, hunting scarce prey
Heritierajomes. locally known as Sundari. There are said to like chital deer, barking deer, wild boar, rhesus monkeys and
be 41 species of "true mangroves" belonging to 16 families macaques.
and 26 genera in the Sunderbans.
5.6 Women's Empowerment
Experience has shown that forests and wildlife can be protected
only with the active support of communities of the area.
Legislation by itself cannot ensure protection. This is equally
true of mangroves.
The project believes that mangrove communities must have
an economic stake in mangrove management if they are to
support it. A mangrove conservation project must therefore
offer both men and women livelihood opportunities; it must
address both community and gender concerns.
The project has illterllalised gellder concerlls alld
illstitutiollalised activities to empower womell. Elements of
its policy:
Enabling women to realise that the existing social system
does not allow women to take part in development -
their own, or that of their village.
Enabling women to combat the discrimination against
them, and the assumption that they are weak, incompetent
or incapable of decision-making.
Enabling women participants to understand their own
strengths and the pivotal role they can play in their villages.
Methodology: In its various demonstration villages, the project
collected gender-segregated data (data separately on men and
women) using PRA and group discussion as tools. From the
data, the major women's concerns identified were: limited
social influence and economic access; drudgery in domestic
chores; lack of income-generation opportunities; lack of basic
comforts (such as a separate bathing facility, decent toilet
facilities). To address these concerns, a number of activities
were taken up:
Enhancing women empowerment in the community:
Project activities facilitated gradual improvement in the role
of women in the decision-making process at the community
level. Village level institutions developed by the project had
50% representation in the General Body and 30 to 50% in the
Executive Committee. Care was taken to include women from
under-privileged families. This gave the women opportunities
for community-level decision making. Training in leadership
and membership skills imparted to both women and men also
helped strengthen women's participation.
Initially, women were reserved and hesitant to voice their
opinions at meetings. Constant persuasion by project staff was
required to make them speak out. In course of time they become
bold and confident. Result: Women now are often more vocal
than men."This attitudinal change was gradual but dramatic",
says a project staffer. "Now women and men jointly plan,
implement and monitor both socio-economic and mangrove
conservation activities."
Once-passive women in project areas are now active development players.
Both women and men participated in identifying
MMUs. In restoration activities, men were responsible
for canal-digging, women for planting seedlings. Earlier,
women were involved in this activity only as labourers.
In one of the project villages, men supported the
women's stand that a toilet facility and a bathing facility
for women in community ponds were primary concerns
of the village. Activities were planned and implemented
In MGR Nagar of Pichavaram where a primary school
was started, both women and men manage the school.
In consequence, the concerns of girl children are
promptly addressed and solved.
In one of the villages, both men and women were
imparted training in traditional Indian medicine
(Siddha). Normal custom is that the practice of
traditional Indian medicine is confined to men.
Economic empowerment: PRA studies showed a very low
financial resource base for women in all the project villages,
and limited ownership rights to household property. A
number of activities were effectively implemented to address
these issues. Examples:
A few hundred Self-Help Groups of women have been
formed in three states. Nearly 80% of them are linked
to banks and government development schemes such
as DWCRA, SGSY etc.
Several women SHGs now own and operate micro-
enterprises dealing with poultry, freshwater farming,
kitchen gardening, tree nurseries, dairy farming, coil'
rope making etc. Some micro enterprises are owned
jointly by women and men.
Following the project's intervention, ownership titles
of land for the construction of houses are being issued
in the name of women.
Reducing drudgery of women and addressing their
specific needs:
In most project areas, women were assisted with gas
stoves and kerosene stoves, so that they were spared
the drudgery of collecting and carrying wood home to
light kitchen fires. They took part in community and
homestead plantation schemes, which provided
alternatives to mangroves for kitchen fuel.
A Continuing Education Centre was started in
Matlapalem, Andhra Pradesh.
Drinking water supply problems were addressed in
project villages of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and
Empowerment in action. Women plant mangrove saplings 10
enable mangrove restoration (top), are trained in tailoring
(centre). and are busy making foot mats (below).
Dr. M.S. Swamillat!lall and forest officials survey a mangrove site
5.7 The Project's Partnership
with Forest Departments
The work of the ICEF-supported project depends
on partnership and co-operation with the FD
which owns the mangrove forests. The FDs from
Tamil Nadu. Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West
Bengal have been active participants at various
stages of the project - developing objectives,
proposing implementation strategies, reviewing
progress, monitoring and evaluation of outputs.
In fact, the overall design of the ICEF-supported
project closely follows the principle of Joint
Forest Management (JFM) with modifications
needed for managing mangrove wetlands.
The project and the FD are partners at various
Project Management Committee at the
national level
Project Guidance Committees at the state level
Joint Working Groups at the district level.
The national-level Project Management Committee is chaired
by Dr M S Swaminathan. Other members are the Secretary,
Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India,
or his nominee; the Director of ICEF; the Secretary.
Department of Environment and Forests, of the states of Tamil
Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal; the Principal
Conservator of Forests (PCCF) of the four project states;
experts in mangrove conservation and management, gender
specialists, representatives from NGOs and village bodies
such as panchayats.
The Project Management Committee meets once in six months.
It provides overall direction and policy guidance, and ensures
coordination among various government departments.
The State-level Project Guidance Committees are chaired by
the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of the States
concerned. Other members are the Chief Conservators of
Forests (Territorial and Wildlife), the Conservators of Forests
(Territorial and Wildlife), District Forest Officers, wildlife
wardens, and representatives of local NGOs and village
The Project Guidance Committees meet once in four months.
They approve of the annual work plans, review progress of
activities, monitor and evaluate outputs, provide technical and
administrative guidance.
The district-level Joint Working Groups are chaired by the
Collector of the district concerned. Meetings of this group are
convened by the District Forest Officer. Other members are
district-level officers of various government departments,
Block Development Officers, representatives of local NGOs
and village institutions.
The Joint Working Groups meet every three months. They
facilitate local-level planning, assistance from government
schemes, and monitoring of activities.
Village-level institutions such as a general body and an
executive committee plan and implement project activities in
each village. The FD's Range Officer is one of the members
of the executive committee which plans, implements and
monitors micro-plans for the village MMU.
Major achievements:
The MEF deputed a sub-committee of experts to evaluate
the project's mangrove restoration techniques. These
techniques were then incorporated into the National
Mangrove Action Plan.
The FDs in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh accorded
recognition to the project's village-level institutions and
allowed them to plan and implement mangrove
conservation and management activities
The FDs in Andhra Pradesh encourage the project to
strengthen many village-level institutions in the Godavari
and Krishna mangroves.
The FDs in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal
have recognised crab fattening in the mangrove restoration
canals as an important benefit-sharing practice. It has been
included in mangrove management plans.
Field-level FD staff have received orientation and training
on mangrove ecology, restoration techniques, JMM, and
use of remote sensing techniques in mangrove
conservation. FD field staff have taken part in the project's
village-level exercises such as PRA, group formation,
setting up of MMUs, formulation of micro-plans, and in
workshops organised by the project.
6. Remote Sensing and Mangrove Mapping
The conventional method of land surveying and mapping to
assess the extent of forest area is difficult in mangrove forests
because of the inhospitable terrain. MSSRF therefore studies
remote sensing data provided by Landsat satellites, and
organises digital analysis of this data using IDRIS!, a GIS
training software, to monitor, assess and map mangrove forest
MSSRF studies show a significant increase in mangrove area
in the Pichavaram belt of Tamil Nadu since the inception of
the project.
The methodology for before-and-after-project studies is to
compare Survey of India maps (based on 1975 surveys), and
maps based on recent remote sensing data made available by
the National Remote Sensing Agency.
The remote sensing data can be integrated if necessary with
socio-economic parameters such as population and income,
and hydrological parameters of the wetland ecosystem of local
communities, and fed into GIS maps of the mangrove wetlands.
A mangrove atlas for Tamil Nadu is being prepared by the
project. It will contain some 30 maps each of Pichavaram and
Muthupet mangroves divided into four groups: a) Location of
the mangroves and remove sensing imagery (b) Environment
and resources inclusive of geomorphology, changes in coastal
configuration, hydrology-related maps, oceanography and
wetland maps (c) Resource
uti Iization pattern:
infrastructure of user villages,
their populations and
occupations, income range,
types of fish catch, cropping
patterns, dependency on
mangrove wetlands - grazing
areas, firewood collection and
fishing practices and (d)
Management issues and options
with details of mouth closure,
freshwater resources, grazing and firewood collection.
The Tamil Nadu FD provided its inputs toward the preparation
of this atlas. Similar atlases are also proposed for Andhra
Pradesh and Orissa.
Basic training on remote sensing and GIS is being provided to
FD and MSSRF project staff. They learn how to visually
interpret remote sensing data to identify wetland features such
as mangroves, other vegetation, mudflats, sandy and salt
patches, geomorphological features.
A training course on interpretation of remote sensing data was
conducted at MSSRF in February 2002 for forest officials from
Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Remote sensing and
coastal wetlands experts gave talks during the course.
These maps demonstrate the project's success - they show an increase in lIlangmve area
at Picha varam between 1986 and 2000. (Green patches indicate mangroves.)
7. Genetic Engineering and Adaptation to Climate Change :
Mangrove Genetic Resources Centre, Pichavaram
Mangroves constitute a group of species for which seed storage
is difficult because of rapid loss of viability. Mangrove
gerrnplasm has therefore to be maintained either as living plants
in the field (in situ) or under cover (e.g. greenhouse), or as
cuttings, as pollen, and as active cultures.
MSSRF's ongoing programme on propagation of mangroves
(vegetative and tissue culture) and bioprospecting (use of
biological organisms to promote public welfare) of mangroves,
has the following focus.
Collection of seeds/propagules of plus trees of various
mangrove species throughout India. (Criteria for selecting
such trees were laid down after a brain-storming
discussion held at MSSRF in Chennai.)
Propagation of superior trees through different methods
- seed, vegetative (cuttings, air layers etc.) and tissue
cui ture.
Establishment of a mangrove genetic resources center in
Pichavaram, to serve as a repository of the diverse
germplasm of mangrove species, help increase the density
and diversity of mangrove forests at Pichavaram and
Muthupet, and function as
a store-house for
propagated material, as a
nursery, a field-gene bank
and training centre.
Investigations into the
medicinal properties of
selected mangrove plants
on the basis of indigenous
Vegetative propagatioll: Clonal
propagation of mangroves through roots of cuttings and
airlayering was standardized for several mangrove species -
RhizopllOra apieulata, R. mueronata and R. hybrid, Avicennia
marilla, A. officillalis, Excoecaria agallocha, SOllneratia
apetala, Xylocmpus grallatum, Heritierajomes, illtsia bijuga
alld Acanthus ilieijolius. Studies suggest that seasonality plays
an important role in vegetative propagation. October-January
was found to be best season for these species.
Micropropagatioll: Tissue culture or micropropagation is a
technique to grow plant parts in a semi-solid synthetic medium
Vegetatively propagated mangrove plallts developed in mist chambers.
.. -
..; -.'
Plantlets produced by this method are usually free of
bacteria and fungi. In some cases, treatment can rid
plantlets of virus.
Micropropagation is independent of seasons, and enables
easier movement of plants. Complete micropropagation
protocols for some mangrove species, which include
Excoecaria agallocha. Sesuviulll portl/lacastrulll.
Acanthus illicifolius and Avicennia (~fficinalis. were
developed at MSSRF. This required, in addition to MS
minor nutrients and vitamins, a special combination of
major nutrients. Plants raised through tissue culture were
successfully transferred to the Pichavaram mangrove
Field Transfer to 111angrove Genetic Resources Centre: After
a detailed survey of salinity and surface water temperature,
three zones were identified in the Pichavaram mangrove forest.
The plants propagated through seed culture, vegetative
propagation and tissue culture were field-transferred in the
months of December and January. A total of 16,000 plants
belonging to 14 genera were transferred to the field.
Micropropagated E. agallocha. A. iiicifolius and A. officinatis
were also transferred separately. The survival and growth rates
of these plants were constantly monitored for two years. The
survival rates of the three species mentioned above were 95%,
93% and 65% respectively.
The MGRCC nursery established at Pichavaram serves as a
repository for mangrove species. It can also supply and
distribute planting materials to various agencies including the
FD, NGOs and research institutions.
under a controlled
environment. This
technology is ideal when
extensive restoration is to be
done by multiplying large
populations of mangrove
species. MSSRF has
standardised micro-
propagation protocols, for
the first time, for three
important species of
mangroves. These can help
propagate superior trees of
mangrove species for use in
large-scale restoration
Tissue culture
Tissue culture is done with
a relatively small piece of
plant tissue; vegetative
propagation methods, on the
other hand, involve the use of 5 - 6 nodal shoot segments.
The advantages of micropropagation over vegetative
propagation are:
Stem cuttings of Acanthus ilicifolius in the mist chamber.
8. Conservation and Genetic Enhancement of Mangroves
Elucidated phylogenetic and evolutionary relationships
among the mangrove species
Developed a sound conservation strategy for the mangrove
species by identifying genotypes based on the analysis of
intra-specific and inter- specific diversity studies. (Intra
and inter-population level studies have been undertaken
for 18 mangrove species)
Consolidated variable genotypes and established a
mangrove genetic resource center in Pichavaram.
Made significant headway in identifying novel genetic
combinations from mangrove species capable of offering
resistance to coastal salinity.
Application of modern
biotechnological tools and
recombinant DNA technology
have enabled the identification of
a number of salt-tolerant genes
from the mangrove species
Avicellnia marina. Isolated genes
from the mangroves have been
characterized and transferred to
annual crop species such as rice,
mustard and black gram. Further
studies are being conducted. The
ultimate objective of this activity
is to develop a number of
location-specific salinity-tolerant
crop varieties - an approach
immensely important in view of
the increasing salinisation of
coastal regions in the years to

Studies at MSSRF have

provided insights into the
genetic characterisation and
identification of 28 mangrove
species and species
relationships, and the
underlying evolutionary
differences in 22 mangrove
genera, using various marker
systems. They have also helped
identify priority areas and
species for conservation and
consolidation of mangrove genotypes.
During the past few years, the ongoing research programme
at MSSRF has strengthened knowledge on the system of
molecular marker-based identification of mangrove species.
(DNA profile-based molecular identification systems have
been developed for 43 species). It has also
Since 1990, the Department of Biotechnology has been
supporting the MSSRF's on-going programme for genetic
enhancement of the coastal ecosystem using modern
biotechnological interventions.
The coastal ecosystem suffers from increasing population
pressure, low agricultural productivity, depleting natural
resources and increasing environmental degradation. These
problems may worsen in the years to come because of the rise
in the sea level as a result of global warming.
Despite the ecological and economic potential of mangroves,
studies on mangrove genetics have received little or no
attention in the past. MSSRF has initiated work on molecular
mapping of major mangrove communities along the Indian
coast. This programme also seeks to isolate novel genetic
combinations from mangrove species that offer tolerance to
coastal salinity, and utilize such genes to develop location-
specific and stress-tolerant cultivars.
The molecular mapping and genetic enhancement programme
seeks to consolidate genotypes capable of adapting to the
problems of sea level rise, and develop practical breeding
materials that could tolerate or resist coastal salinity. The major
emphasis of the programme is to
Analyse genetic diversity and species relationships among
Indian mangrove species and other economically
important crop species, using molecular marker
technology as a prelude to genetic conservation.
Isolate and characterise stress-tolerant genes to develop
salt-tolerant crop varieties for coastal agri-eco-systems.
Avicennia marina: Source plant
Genes for salinity tolerance
isolated from mangrove species
using modern molecular
biological approaches
Transformation vector with
isolated mangrove gene
Rice calli used for transformation

Transgenic rice plant with mangrove gene

Transfer of salinity -
tolerant gene from
mangrove tree to rice

Rooting of the
regenerated plants
Regeneration of
transformed calli
9. How a Mangrove Community Views the Project
What do Thirukoti Ammaji, Mulaprathi Durga, Jennepalle
Chinni, Vadrevu Sathyavathi, Mandala Sesharathnam,
Pemmada Appayamma, Sangathi Sathyamma, Chekka
Nukarathnam, Penupothu Thanukulamma, Penupothu
Sathyanarayanamma and Y. Dhamayanthi have in common?
They are women decision-makers (EDC, SHG and VSS
members) from mangrove communities of Andhra Pradesh.
On February 14, 2002, they along with some 200 other
women and 60 men interacted with some 30 delegates to a
National Workshop on Mangrove Conservation held in
Rajahmundry, and organised jointly by MSSRF and the
AP Forest Department. Among the delegates were
Mr Bernard Boudreau and Dr. Jaya Chatterjee of the ICEE
The meeting enabled mangrove communities to tell
workshop delegates directly about their feelings, problems
and experiences in mangrove conservation and
Some of the views expressed:
"Fishery resources in the mangrove areas are
dwindling rapidly." Responding, Mr. Bernard
Boudreau said that in Canada anyone who harvests
juvenile fish will be prosecuted. His house and car
will be confiscated. What is the action taken in India?
Ms. Y. Dhamayanthi, President Gadimoga EDC: "We
get to catch only small fish. We have to depend on
that for our daily living. Our main concern is about
the next meal."
An old lady, Ms. Sangathi Sathyamma of Dindu, said:
"We have realized the importance of mangroves from
the recent cyclones. We will do whatever we can to
protect mangroves".
Nukarathnalll of
Matlapalelll, said,
"We have raised
plantations, and they
will stand us in good
Ms. Penupothll
Thanllklilalllma: "The
project's daily loan
scheme has helped us
a lot. We take money in the morning, buy and sell fish
and earn a bit of money."
Ms. Jennepalle Chinlli ofBhairavalanka:
"We have got smokeless chlilas. coir rope
training, kerosene stove, Moringa
seedlings and hybrid chicks from the
project. Now we are getting loans to buy
milch animals. MSSRF has paid the initial
deposit. If we are somewhat better off now
than before, it's because of the Foundation."
She added: "Initially we used to run away
when MSSRF staff visited us. We thought
they were from the excise department. At
one time, our people were playing cards and
brewing illicit liquor. Now we are working
and earning. It is really a change, and we
owe it to the Foundation".
Mr Mulaparthi Krishnamllrthy of Bhairavalanka, said
that initially he and his fellow-residents ignored the
project staff. But they were patient. "You showed
extreme tolerance and kept visiting our village,
something no one else did because we are a remote
island. Now we have great faith in the project. We
have dug the channels and planted the saplings with
our own hands, so we will definitely protect our
Mr Solomon Raju, President. VSS. Bhairavalallka:
"We have got 40 acres of land through VSS for raising
casuarina, to use as an alternative for firewood, house
construction and other purposes. We have made some
money from the first harvest of casuarina."
Ms. Undru Suramma: "Self-help groups started by the
Foundation give us loans. We are also insured under
one scheme'. She added: "We do not use mangroves
for firewood, we are using prosopis, coconut refuse
and smokeless chlllas".
10. The Future
The ICEF-supported project on mangrove conservation and
management in coastal wetlands, as well as other mangrove
projects implemented by MSSRF over the past decade, have
yielded a cornucopia of benefits, lessons and learnings. Perhaps
the most obvious positive impact springs from the
restoration technique for degraded mangroves. Another with
tremendous long-term impact is the Joint Mangrove
Management process. Its effectivenes in Tamil Nadu, Andhra
Pradesh and Orissa has been a triumph of the multi-stakeholder
Globally, the implications for humankind of the research on
genetic conservation of mangroves and the development of
transgenic plants are epochal. So are the many scientific studies
undertaken in Pichavaram and Chennai. The network of
mangrove genetic resource centres, and the mangrove
information systems created during the past few years, will
assist mangrove planners, researchers and scientists worldwide.
The experiences in gender empowerment and equity, and in
the use of theater, folk and outdoor media to motivate target
groups (particularly in Andhra Pradesh) should interest
all development planners and practitioners.
'The future lies in stakeholder management and in creating an
economic stake in conservation", says Dr Swaminathan. The
process of carrying out PRAs of target communities, setting
up local-level institutions, creating a support
network, formulating and implementing development plans
- that is valid for all development work, not just for
"Every Calamity Provides an Opportunity"
The Orissa super-cyclone of 1999 reminds one of the statement
that every calamity also provides an opportunity for steps to
prevent similar calamities in future. The super-cyclone
damaged the Orissa coast; it also dramatised the life-saving
character of mangrove forests, because areas
adjoining mangrove forests either withstood the fury of the
cyclones or suffered far less damage than other areas. This
generated awareness among local communities of the
importance of mangrove forests, and encouraged
them to raise mangrove nurseries and plant saplings in degraded
The growing awareness among scientists and political leaders
about potential changes in sea level as a result of global
warming, has brought to light the role of mangroves in
providing genes for seawater tolerance. Thus, there are
uncommon opportunities today to launch a "save mangroves
for saving lives and livelihoods" movement.
To initiate and sustain such a movement, it will be necessary
to provide appropriate technologies, training and techno-infra-
structure to coastal families. For
this purpose, we need national
and local-level resource centres
to promote on scientific lines a
participatory mangrove
management programme.
National Resource Centre
for Mangrove Wetlands
MSSRF envisages a National
Resource Centre for Mangrove
Wetlands, to consolidate the
project's learnings, and serve as a mechanism to facilitate
policy-making, advice, awareness and action on mangrove
issues. Likely functions of the Centre:
Assisting a policy framework on mangrove conservation
and restoration, with guidelines to stakeholders on
sustainable and participatory management.
Facilitating the spread of Joint Mangrove Management
Systems through capacity-building and the development
of sustainable livelihood options.
Offering a vision on socio-economic perspectives and
dimensions, and stimulating action on the empowerment
of women.
Promoting sustainable aquaculture in mangrove wetlands.
Networking with national and international centres and
agencies that deal with mangroves
Serving as a national and international forum for debate
and discussion on mangrove-related issues.
Organising training and briefing as appropriate for
scientists, forest managers, NGOs and policy-makers
Enabling GIS and remote sensing services
Strengthening database development - through
information systems such as MAWIS (Mangrove Wetlands
Information System)
Providing information-education-communication services
through print and audio-visual media.
1990-2000 may well go down in history as the mangrove
decade. Its momentum ought to be sustained well beyond the
decade, so that coastal families win the battle against the fury
of cyclones, the famine of livelihood opportunities and the
fear of sea level rise. Governments and populations everywhere
should understand, explore and tap the many-splendoured
potential of mangroves for the common good.
"Childhood and genius have the same thing
in common - inquisitiveness"
Children in mangrove areas are like children
everywhere - full of enthusiasm, mischief,
inquisitiveness. Their interest must be sparked if
mangrove conservation is to endure. The project
helped set up a school in MGR Nagar, Pichavaram
(below) and Dr M S Swaminathan (right) answered
many of the children's questions. Several schools
in the project area have mangrove clubs. At a recent
workshop in Rajahmundry, schoolchildren from the
mangrove communities presented a play titled
"Mother Earth" about the importance of mangroves.
Such efforts should be multiplied so that today's happy children
(below) grow into pro-active custodians of mangrove forests
tomorrow. As Dr. Swaminathan puts it, "Saving mangrove forests
without saving the children for whose well-being these forests
are being saved makes no sense."