Governments and various corporations are creating sea walls and anti-erosion bunds for minimizing soil erosion. Little do they realise that these coastal developments and sea bunds are the reason soil erosion increases. Soil erosion is a natural process and making coastal developments to cease a natural process will only make it worse. The coastal regions of India face the problem of soil erosion but soon transcends into court matters about coastal developments and projects that involve cutting down of mangroves.
Corps are cutting down mangroves for various development projects. Mangroves act as natural barriers that protect and deteriorate soil erosion. Coastal development has sparked increased concern about erosion issues and prompted significant efforts to manage and restore coastal areas to withstand human activities, extreme events, and rising sea levels. However, when countermeasures such as hard or soft structural options are unsuitable, poorly designed or built, or inadequately maintained, erosion problems may worsen, and the impact on adjacent shores may be disregarded. Typically, erosion is addressed on a localized or regional level rather than considering the natural processes of the entire coastal system. This is due to a lack of understanding about coastal processes and the protective role of coastal systems.
Mangroves are widely recognized as a natural barrier that offers protection against various environmental hazards, such as coastal erosion, tsunamis, storms, and waves. They serve as the first line of defence in safeguarding coastlines and provide an array of ecosystem services that benefit coastal communities, such as timber production, fisheries, tourism, climate regulation, and carbon storage. Despite their significance, mangroves are facing severe threats in many parts of the world, such as urban development, mining, overexploitation of timber, rapid expansion of aquaculture and agriculture, and increasing environmental risks. With the escalating damages caused by environmental risks, such as the 2018 Sulawesi tsunami, the conservation and restoration of mangroves have become more crucial than ever before.
To ensure the effective management and sustainability of mangroves, they must be regarded as valuable resources. This chapter aims to review the key roles of mangroves as coastal protectors and natural barriers against storm surges, tsunamis, wind, waves, and erosion, as well as the benefits of protecting mangroves. It highlights the need for urgent action to conserve and restore mangroves and to recognize their immense ecological and socioeconomic significance. Through sustainable management practices, including community-based approaches, mangroves can continue to provide valuable ecosystem services and act as a natural defence system against environmental hazards.
Out of the 100 developments projects in these areas 40 involves project in the areas of mangroves which are then cut down. The high court’s eventually grants them the permission. This is an entire cycle that one ignores. First you cut down the natural barriers that helps in slowing down a natural process, for personal use that is development projects; you built coastal walls as a substitute a barrier which worsens the situation.
The Bombay High Court had granted the request of the National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) to cut down 21,997 mangrove trees in Mumbai, Palghar, and Thane for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. The NHSRCL had submitted a petition in 2020 to destroy around 53,000 mangrove trees for the 508 km project. However, the HC has allowed the destruction of fewer mangroves than initially requested, subject to certain conditions. This is just one of the incidents where natural processes are being tampered.
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