By the year-end, the city will know whether the mangrove cover in Mumbai, suburban areas, Thane and Navi Mumbai has increased or decreased.
The state mangrove cell along with the Maharashtra Remote Sensing and Space Application Centre (MRSAC) will begin an individual assessment of mangroves in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane through high-resolution satellite imagery starting from August.
The images procured from Indian Space and Research Organisation's (Isro) National Remote Sensing Centre in Hyderabad, will help find whether there has been an increase or decrease in mangrove cover since 2005, when a similar satellite-based exercise was conducted, said officials from the state mangrove cell on Monday.
N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, said: “In the next four to five months, we will have high-resolution images with 1:5000 scale which will clearly show us through several maps whether mangroves have increased since 2005.”
Vasudevan added that according to a study by the mangrove cell through Google maps, there has been an increase in mangrove cover in Mumbai, suburban areas and Navi Mumbai in the last one year.
According to officials from MRSAC, the exercise has been going on since 2014 in areas such as Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri. “We have recorded 5,300 hectares of mangroves in Sindhudurg as compared to previous statistics of 2,000 hectares and satellite mapping process is going on in Ratnagiri,” said Dilip M Kolte, senior resources scientist, MRSAC.
Kolte added that the process is likely to be over by the year-end.
“Digital Globe, a satellite imagery company in the US, will provide us with 60-cm dimension images, which we will procure through Isro’s remote sensing centre,” he said.
Environmentalists said the exercise is an academic one and there has been no explanation of the loss of mangrove cover owing to building projects and encroachments.
In 2014, after NGO Vanashakti filed a public interest litigation (PIL), the high court banned all reclamation and construction on wetlands
“The project has a more post-mortem value to decipher the number of tree cover that has already been lost. The encroachers and builders will start increasing their reclamation activities before the mapping process is completed,” said Stalin D, project director, Vanashakti.
Mangrove cover has increased in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai
* There are various reasons why mangrove cover has increased, as per a recent study conducted by the cell on the basis of google maps (satellite) imagery.
* “We have undertaken mangrove plantation drive across 179 hectares in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. Of the five hectares of encroachment across 5,500 hectares of mangrove area under government-owned land, more than 1,000 illegal hutments have been removed from wetlands and remaining 400 will be removed after the monsoon,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.
* In Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, 5,469 hectares of mangroves have been notified as reserved forests, he added.
Why you should care
* Mangroves act as a buffer zone between the land and sea. The green cover protects the land from erosion and stands as a protector of shorelines against cyclones and ecological disasters
* They is also a breeding ground for a variety of marine animals such as invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds, acting as a good source of timber, fuel and fodder.
* Mangroves also absorb impurities such as harmful heavy metals and pollutants in the air.