Assessment of Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Goods and Service: “Linking Coastal Zone Management to Ecosystem Services in India”

 / Research / In-House /ISE/ Assessment of Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Goods and Services – Linking Coastal Zone Management to Ecosystem Services in India

The Project

Economy has a complex relationship with the natural environment. Coastal and marine ecosystems are an important natural environment producing valuable goods and services that are essential for human wellbeing. Stock and flow of the coastal ecosystem services have been used directly and indirectly by the economic units viz., households, enterprises and Government for production and consumption and play a major role in the overall economic system. Fishery, fuel wood, fodder, tourist attraction and similar direct uses have been well recognised as ecosystem services. Apart from the direct benefits, regulating services such as protection from cyclones, storms, floods, tsunami, prevention from soil erosion, water quality maintenance, carbon sequestration etc., are also widely recognised as coastal ecosystem services which are indirect benefits from the coastal ecosystems. In addition, cultural services such as tourism and recreation benefits also shall be accounted for under the ecosystem services. Many of the goods and services produced by the coastal ecosystems are not easily quantified and accounted since, they are not being traded in the formal market. Hence, many of the coastal ecosystem goods and services have been often neglected or even ignored by the economy, industry, coastal communities and other stakeholders though they are basically dependent on various ecosystem benefits. Systematic accounting of the benefits shall enlighten the relationship of ecosystem function, human dependency and economics.

Considering the importance of sustainable utilisation of the environmental benefits; objective IV of National Environment Policy (NEP., 2006) has recommended to integrate environmental concerns in all economic and social development activities. The Principle ‘V’ of NEP 2006 directed, in various public actions for environmental conservation, economic efficiency should be realised. In addition, under the strategies and actions for substantive reforms of environment management, the NEP has guided to reverse the tendency to treat environment resources as “free goods”, and adapt measures to avoid externalities passing the costs of degradation to other sections of society, or to future generations of the country. All the above recommendations of NEP (2006) require economic analysis of ecosystems goods and services. Under this project, the coastal ecosystems indicated in the Coastal Regulation Zone 2011 (CRZ, 2011) under Environment Protection Act (EPA, 1986) were assessed to estimate the equivalent economic benefits of goods and services produced by the coastal ecosystems and habitats.

Fig. 1: Ecosystem goods and services

Aim

To facilitate more equitable, sustainable, inclusive and informed decision-making, by articulating monetary terms and economic importance of coastal ecosystem services to human wellbeing.

Objectives

  • Analysis of various methods adopted to value ecosystems services (meta-analysis) and study the application potentials for coastal ecosystems of India

  • Study the extent, status, services and monetary benefits of ESAs specified in CRZ

  • Assess the externalities in the coastal environmental assets and stocks (indicators of changes) troubling the continuous flow of various goods and services from the coastal ecosystems

Key Findings

Nine coastal ecosystems / habitats which play a role in maintaining the integrity of the coast such as mangroves, corals and coral reefs; sand dunes; mudflats; salt marshes; turtle nesting grounds; horseshoe crabs habitats; seagrass beds; nesting grounds of birds as indicated as ESAs in the CRZ 2011 & CRZ 2018 Notification were assessed under this project. The above ecosystems (ESA) were delineated, and the list of goods and services flowing were listed and quantified. Equivalent economic benefits of the nine ecosystems were estimated. Nine separate coastal ecosystems’ reports were prepared and published online.

The monetary value of coastal ecosystem goods and services shall be a tool to raise awareness and convey the (relative) importance of ecosystems and biodiversity to the general public and policymakers. This awareness shall create markets for conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. In addition, the monetary value shall support decision making on allocation of resources of competing uses. Estimated values of the coastal ecosystems allow policy makers to quantitatively assess the economic benefits that society might gain from sustainable use of coastal ecosystems. The reports have been referred to in many NGT cases to compensate and to recover the ecosystem damages.

Fig. 2: State-wise Economic share of Coastal ecosystems in CRZ I