Developing Ecotourism: The Prospect of Bakkhali Group Project prepared under Rajiv Gandhi Chair Preface This project has been prepared under the aegis of Rajiv Gandhi Chair in Eco -systems & Sustainable Development under the supervision of Professor Sarmila Banerjee by the Masters level students in Economics with specialization in Resource & Environmental Economics of the University of Calcutta. Prof. Banerjee has initiated us to the issues related to economy-environment interface and convinced us about the importance of the notion of ecotourism to help the entire process keep going.
We are extremely grateful to Professor Banerjee for her active interest and caring support all throughout. In this backdrop we tried to collate information on different aspects of Ecotourism from our field trip to Bakkhali, a small part of the Sundarban mangrove forest ecosystem of West Bengal. We enjoyed our venture in this newly travelled terrain of environmental economics and learnt to search for information from the internet, write brief descriptions of the issues, prepare presentation slides and fina lly to give an integrated shape to the entire project.
Finally, it has been the collective contribution of all the students of this course of the batch 2010-2012. Semester IV Resource and Environmental Economics M. Sc. (Economics) University of Calcutta June 8, 2012 ii Table of Contents No. Contents Preface Table of Contents Ecotourism 1. 1 Different forms of Tourism in India 1. 2 Future prospects of Tourism 1. 3 Impacts of tourism 1. 4 Promoting ecotourism in India 1. 5 The principles adopted by those involved in Ecotourism 1. 6 Why ecotourism? Page No. ii iii – iv 1-8 2. Ecosystem Approach 2. 1 Ecosystem and its Importance . 2 Ecosystem Approach 2. 3 Implementation of Ecosystem Approach 9 – 11 3. Valuing Biodiversity 3. 1 Why value Ecosystem? 3. 2 Motivation for an economic evaluation of ecosystem services 3. 3 Biodiversity 3. 4 Valuation of Biodiversity 3. 5 Biodiversity Mapping 12 – 15 4. People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) 4. 1 Objective of PBR formation 4. 2 Usefulness of PBR 4. 3 Information recorded in PBR 4. 4 Major ways of collecting data for PBR 4. 5 Interconnectedness in an Ecosystem 16 – 18 5. Sundarban – A Special Ecosystem 5. 1 Sundarban Eco – region: Introduction 5. 2
Sundarban Freshwater Swamp Forests 5. 3 Sundarban Mangroves 5. 4 Sand – Dunes: Ecological Set – up 5. 5 Biodiversity of Sundarban 5. 6 Livelihood in Sundarban 5. 7 Utilization of Mangrove Resources Comprised 5. 8 Recent Developments & their Impacts 5. 9 Man-Animal Conflict 5. 10 Threats to Sundarban & Climatic Vulnerability 19 – 33 1. iii 6. Ecotourism in Bakkhali: A Fringe Part of Sundarban 6. 1 Bakkhali 6. 2 Accessibility 6. 3 Uniqueness 6. 4 Frasergunj, Henry Island & Jwambudwip 6. 5 Floral Diversity at Bakkhali & Henry Isand 6. 6 Faunal Diversity at Bakkhali & Henry Island . 7 Avian Diversity at Bakkhali & Henry Island 6. 8 Livelihood on Biodiversity 6. 9 Market Sharing 6. 10 Other Observations 6. 11 Threats from Tourism 6. 12 Our Suggestions iv 34 – 45 I. ECOTOURISM diversification to become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. Tourism has become a thriving global indu stry with the power to shape developing countries in both positive and negative ways. Consequently, it is the fourth largest industry in the global economy and in India it contributes to a large proportion of the National Income – 6. 3% to the national GDP and 8. 78% of the total employment; thus generating huge employment opportunities (Wikipedia). 1. 1 Different forms of Tourism in India The Indian government, in order to boost tourism of various kinds in India, has set up the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. T his ministry recently launched a campaign called ‘I bl I !’ ff y f I .T trend is moving toward niche segments of tourism (as shown in figure 1 below). Figure 1: Different Forms of Tourism in India 1. 2 Future prospects of Tourism
According to the latest Tourism Satellite Accounting (TSA) research, released by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and its strategic partner Oxford Economics in March 2009: 1 ? The demand for travel and tourism in India is expected to grow by 8. 2 per cent between 2010 and 2019 and will place India at the third position in the world. ? India’s travel and tourism sector is expected to be the second largest employer in the world. Considering the ever growing importance of this industry it is necessary we look for ways that will be sustainable in the long run. wikipedia) 1. 3 Impacts of tourism Positive Impacts 1. Generating Income and Employment: Tourism in India has emerged as an instrument of income and employment generation, poverty alleviation and sustainable human development. 2. Source of Foreign Exchange Earnings: Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange earnings in India. This has favourable impact on the balance of payment of the country. 3. Preservation of National Heritage and Environment: Tourism helps preserve several places which are of historical importance by declaring them as heritage sites.
For instance, the Taj Mahal, the Qutab Minar, Ajanta and Ellora temples, etc, would have been decayed and dest royed had it not been for the efforts taken by Tourism Department to preserve them. Likewise, tourism also helps in conserving the natural habitats of many endangered species. 4. Developing Infrastructure: Tourism tends to encourage the development of mult ipleuse infrastructure that benefits the host community, including various means of transports, health care facilities, and sports centers, in addition to the hotels and high -end restaurants that cater to foreign visitors.
The development of infrastructur e has in turn induced the development of other directly productive activities. 2 5. Promoting Peace and Stability: Honey and Gilpin (2009) suggests that the tourism industry can also help promote peace and stability in developing country like India by providing jobs, generating income, diversifying the economy, protecting the environment, and promoting cross-cultural awareness. 6. Contributions to Government Revenues The Indian government through the tourism department also collect money in more far reaching and indirect ways that are not linked to specific parks or conservation areas.
User fees, income taxes, taxes on sales or rental of recreation equipment, and license fees for activities such as rafting and fishing can provide governments with the funds ne eded to manage natural resources. Negative Impacts 1. Undesirable Social and Cultural Change: Tourism sometimes led to the destruction of the social fabric of a community. The more tourists come into a place, the more the perceived risk of that place losing its identity. 2. Increase Tension and Hostility: Tourism can increase tension, hostility, and suspicion between the tourists and the local communities when there is no respect and f l y flf . T yf lead to violence and other crimes committed against the tourists. 3. Creating a Sense of Antipathy: Tourism brought little benefit to the local community. Moreover, large hotel chain restaurants often import food to satisfy foreign visitors and rarely emp loy local staff for senior management positions, preventing local farmers and workers from reaping the benefit of their presence. This has often created a sense of antipathy towards the tourists and the government. 4.
Adverse Effects on Environment and Eco logy: One of the most important adverse effects of tourism on the environment is increased pressure on the carrying capacity of the ecosystem in each tourist locality. Increased transport and construction activities led to large scale deforestation and destabilisation of natural landforms, while increased 3 tourist flow led to increase in solid waste dumping as well as depletion of water and fuel resources. Flow of tourists to ecologically sensitive areas resulted in destruction of rare and endangered species due to trampling, killing, disturbance of breeding habitats.
Noise pollution from vehicles and public address systems, water pollution, vehicular emissions, untreated sewage, etc. also have direct effects on bio -diversity, ambient environment and general profile of tourist spots. 5. Depletion of natural resources: Tourism development can put pressure on natural resources when it increases consumption in areas where resources are already scarce. 6. Destruction and Alteration of Ecosystem: Attractive landscape sites, such as sandy beaches in Goa, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu; lakes, riversides, and mountain tops and slopes, are often transitional zones, characterized by species-rich ecosystems.
The threats to and pressures on these ecosystems are often severe because such places are very attractive to both tourists and developers. Examples may be cited from Krushedei Island near Rameswaram. Moreover, habitat can be degraded by tourism leisure activities. For example, wildlife viewing can bring about stress for the animals and alter their natural behaviour when tourists come too close. Safaris and wildlife watching activities have a degrading effect on habitat as they often are accompanied by the noise and commotion created by tourists. Figure 2 shows the same impacts classified under many other categories.
Thus, the value of the very environmental and socio cultural assets that attract travellers can erode over time. This is particularly the case where tourism development is unregulated, blinkered by volume growth, and focused only on short -term economic benefits. This is “unsustainable” and “irresponsible” and completely unacceptable in the 21st century. Tourism in India should be developed in such a way that it accommodates and entertains visitors in a way that is minimally intrusive or destructive to the environment and sustains & supports the native cultures in the locations it is operating in.
Moreover, since tourism is a multi-dimensional activity, and basically a service industry, 4 Figure 2: Classification of Impacts of Tourism it would be necessary that all wings of the Central and State governments, private sector and voluntary organisations become active partners in the endeavour to attain sustainable growth in tourism if India is to become a world player in the tourism industry. Also, Eco tourism needs to be promoted so that tourism in India helps in preserving and sustaining the diversity of the India’s natural and cultural environments. It can simply be summarized as shown in picture 1. 1. 1
Promoting ecotourism in India Fundamentally, eco-tourism means making as little environmental impact as possible and helping to sustain the indigenous populace, thereby encouraging the preservation of wildlife and habitats when visiting a place. This is the respons ible form of tourism and tourism development, which encourages going back to natural products in every aspect of life. It is also the key to sustainable ecological development. The International Eco tourism Society defines eco-tourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. ” ( wikipedia) Pictue 1: Eco-tourism – simply described The key players in the ecotourism business are governments at levels, the local authorities, the developers and the operators, the visitors, and the local community. Each one of them has to be sensitive to the environment and local traditions and follow a set of guidelines for the successful development of ecotourism. 1. 2 Principles adopted in Ecotourism The principles that are adopted by those who are involved in Eco -tourism can be listed as shown below: ? To minimize the negative impacts on environment. ? To build environmental and cultural awareness and respect ?
To provide positive experienc es for both visitors and hosts ? To provide direct financial benefits for conservation ? To provide financial benefits a nd empowerment for local people ? To raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, en vironmental, and social climate ? To support international human rights (www. ecotourism. org/what-is-ecotourism) 6 and labour agreements Scientific and research institutions and non-government organisations can also play some roles in promoting ecotourism: (i) Create awareness, among all concerned, about the importance of sound eco -practices in tourism development; ii) Motivate the local communit ies to increase their involvement in sustainable tourism activities; (iii) Organise training programs to prepare the local people to take up various vocations related to ecotourism (www. ecotourism. org/what-is-ecotourism) All these principles are summed up in figure 3, where their linkage is also shown with the arrow-heads. 6. Emphasizes the need for planning and sustainable growth of the tourism industry 1. Avoid negative impacts on natural & cultural environment 2. Educates the traveller on the importance of conservation PRINCIPLES OF ECOTOURISM 5.
Stressing the use of locallyowned facilities and services. 3. Directs revenues to the conservation of natural areas and the management of protected areas 4. Brings economic benefits to local communities Figure 3: Principles of Eco -tourism 1. 3 Why ecotourism? Most wilderness areas across India are fragile ecosystems that provide a whole host of ecosystem ser vices to local residents and people living downstream; and continue to remain important tourist attractions. However, unplanned tourism in such landscapes can destroy the very environment that attracts such tourism in the first place.
Hence, there is a need to move towards a model of tourism that is compatible with these fragile landscapes. Such tourism is low impact, educational, and conserves the environment while directly benefiting the economic development of local communities. It has the 7 scope to link to a wider constituency and build conservation support while raising awareness about the worth and fragility of such ecosystems in the public at large. It also promotes the non-consumptive use of wilderness areas, for the benefit of local communities living around, and dependent on these fragile landscapes.
Thus, tourism can be developed along with the conservation of the ecosystem. 8 II. ECOSYSTEM APPROACH 2. 1 Ecosystem and its importance Ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plants, animals & micro-organism communities & the non-living environment interacting as a functional unit. And it is this interconnectedness that forms the striking feature of such a system. Healthy ecosystems are essential for human well-being, as they provide inva luable functions and services including sustaining living resources. The health of ecosystems is therefore not only essential to the environment, but also important to the existence and l y. T b f “E y A ”. 2. 2 Ecosystem Approach Ecosystem approach is basically a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes not only conservation but also sustainable use in an equitable way. It is based on the application o f appropriate scientific methodologies focused on levels of biological organization, which encompass the essential structure, processes, functions and interactions among organisms and their environment. It recognizes that humans, with their cultural diver sity, are an integral component of many ecosystems.
However, till date, it has not been possible to identify any particular form of this approach. Ecosystem approach is based on some principles which consider the economy to be anthropocentric. And since ecosystem is a rich resource for human society, the integrated management of the biotic and abiotic components must ensure sustained use so as to secure it for future generations. These principles state that the objectives of management of land, water and living resources are a matter of societal choice and management should be decentralized to the lowest appropriate level.
This approach should be undertaken at the appropriate spatial and temporal scale because time and spatial dimensions are equally important. This approach should also consider all forms of relevant information including scientific, traditional and local knowledge, innovative 9 practices and most importantly, it should be open to changes. Finally, this should involve all relevant sectors of so ciety and scientific discipline s. 2. 3 Implementation of Ecosystem Approach The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) identifies three steps for the implementation of ecosystem approach.
These steps are in accordance with the above mentioned principles (Figure 4). Let us describe these steps in more detail. Figure 4: Major Steps for Implementation of Ecosystem Approach (Adapted from R. Costanza et al. “The value of the World’s ecosystem Services and Natural Capital”, Nature vol. 387(1997) Step A It deals with the most difficult issues of defining an ecosystem area; identifying th e stakeholders and developing a relation between the two. It is best to work simultaneously on defining the ecosystem area and determining the stakeholders who will support the selection and management of that area.
Whether we start with area or with stake holders, 10 it will take substantial time and effort to achieve a workable fit. Howover, this step qualifies as the most important step because a proper management of the ecosystem by the stakeholders and a mutually beneficial relationship between the two can not only bring desirable results but also ensure harmonious coexistence. On the other hand, an improper management might lead to exploitation due to overuse and significant endangering of the ecosystem, disrupting its sustainability for future generations . Step B
This stage involves characterizing the structure and function of the ecosystem, and setting in place mechanisms to manage and monitor it. The most productive way involves scientists and local inhabitants working together , as the traditional and scientific knowledge are likely to be complementary, though different. Step C Step C essentially deals with reducing market induced distortions on ecosystem. Valuation in case of environmental good has always been a problem since these are non marketed goods. Hence market distortion should be corrected at an early stage.
Here we may apply the concept of derived market to arrive at a proper valuation using correct market instruments-Mekong river basin case study showed overvaluation of dam and irrigation schemes. This should be corrected using best possible knowledge. The interlink age between the components should be properly identified while making the cost benefit analysis. Care should be taken to avoid over extraction of resources. Proper incentive should be created among the people for wise use of biodiversity. One may bring political will in necessary issues. 11 III. VALUING BIODIVERSITY 3. 1 Why to value Ecosystem?
The services of ecological systems and the natural capital stocks that produce them l f f E ’ l f -support system. They contribute to human welfare, both directly and indirectly, and therefore represent part of the total economic value of the planet. For the entire biosphere, ,the current economic value of 17 ecosystem services for 16 biomes, based on published studies and a few original calculations, is estimated to be in the range of US$16–54 trillion per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year. Because of the nature of uncertainties, this must be considered as a minimum estimate.
Global gross national product total is around US$18 trillion per year. For example, the average forest benefit in the Med region amounts to about 1% of GDP. Indirect use value such as water-shed protection, contributes about 35% of total estimated value. ( Source: Adapted from R. Costanza et al. “T l f W l’ y S N lC l” N l. 387(1997)p. 256 table 2) 3. 2 Motivation for an economic evaluation of ecosystem services ? Ecosystems provide a wide array of goods and services of value to people. ? Provision of ecosystems services often is not factored into import ant decisions that affect ecosystems.
Distortions in decision –making damage the provision of ecosystems services making human society and the environment poorer. (Valuing Ecosystem services—advantages & disadvantages of existing methodologies and application to PES by Daniel Perrot Maitre (Seminar on environment services and financing for the protection and sustainable use of ecosystem Geneva,10-11 October 2005;IUCN ) 3. 3 Biodiversity Variation in the living part of ecology is called “biological diversity” or “biodiversity”. This term is most commonly used to replace the more clearly defined and long established terms, species diversity and species richness.
Biologists most often define 12 biodiversity as the “totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of a region”. An advantage of this definition is that it seems to describe most circumstances and presents a unified view of the traditional three levels at which biological variety has been identified . (www. portal. gsi. gov. in/) There are three forms of biodiversity: Ecosystem diversity: It refers to the diversity of a place at the level of ecosystems ; the variety of species and ecological processes that occur in different physical settings.
Species diversity: It is the effective number of different species that are represented in a collection of individuals (a dataset). Genetic diversity: It refers to the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species (www. portal. gsi. gov. in/) Biodiversity is indeed a major contributor to the economy through the provision of many ecosystem goods and services. It is intrinsic to the values of beauty and tranquillity. Many Australians place a high value on native plants and animals, which contribute to a sense of cultural identity, spiritual enrichment and recreation.
In fact, biodiversity is central to the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There is also a link between biodiversity and livelihood. This is because a person’s livelihood refers to “means of securing the necessities of life”. Th is extends to include social and cultural means, i. e. “the command an individual, family, or other social group has over an income and/or bundles of resources that can be used or exchanged to satisfy its needs. ” For instance a fisherman’s livelihood depends on the availability and accessibility of the diversity of fish.
Therefore valuation of biodiversity is very important in our daily life. (www. portal. gsi. gov. in/) 3. 4 Valuation of Biodiversity The Value of Biodiversity (Figure 5) Includes both Use Values and Non-Use Values:? Use values include direct use (both consumptive and non-consumptive), indirect use, and option values 13 Direct-use Values: Hunting, direct -consumption (e. g. collection of berries, mushrooms, b l ll “ ) ll “ ”; b y tourism ”. – Indirect-use Values: Ecosystem services such as pollination, habitat for other species, sustaining food chains, and other uses are indirect -use values. Non-use values include bequest values and existence values (http://www. biospherenursery. com/pages/whatisabioscape. html ) Value of Biodiversity Present use value-market based Future use value-option value Direct use value -conscious Existenceexistence value Non use value -ignorant? Figure 5: Fragmented Value of Biodiversity 3. 5 Biodiversity Mapping Biodiversity mapping denotes the link between biodiversity and human diversity. It is recognizes the role- played by human diversity in biodiversity conservation.
Cultural biodiversity also exists in towns as people use traditional medicines, eat traditional food, wear traditional cloth and can also have an intricate knowledge on culture and biodiversity. Categories of Biodiversity Mapping Bioscape: The term Bioscape f “l ff b lz l ”; including human habitat (http://www. biospherenursery. com/pages/whatisabioscape. html). Landscape: Landscape ecology is described as a science that examines the appearance and patterns of land as a result of the interactions with its ecosystems. The relatively new 14 iscipline of landscape ecology provides insight into both landscape diversity and species diversity and suggests a theoretical and practical basis for conservation planning . Timescape: Timescape is the change in pattern over time. It documents landscape pattern, occurrence and exploitation of biological diversity and the dependence of community on the natural resources. IV. PEOPLE’S BIODIVERSITY REGISTER (PBR) P l’ B yR (PBR) is a documented register containing comprehensive information on the availability and knowledge of the local biological resource, their use and traditional folklore associated with them.
It is one of the significant steps for conservation of biodiversity through sustainable management using indigenous knowledge. 4. 1 Objectives of PBR formation ? To claim justified benefit sharing by the local people for any commercial use of their BD resources. ? To explore enterprises based on their BD resources ? To develop exhaustive data base to help effective intervention for development & conservation Along with this information, the Register will also contain extensive annotations on the landscape of the area, present land use pattern, and some over timescape. 4. 2 Usefulness of PBR Preparation of Biodiversity Register is an attempt to realize the bio diversity at Local Self Government level, States and the whole Country. ? This will also provide information on the current utilization patterns of biodiversity, its economic benefits to the local communities. 4. 3 Information recorded in PBR 15 The information contained in PBR is not only confined to a list of species available in an area but a comprehensive report on the species, their habit, biological produce, their associated market price, harvesting & transport of the produce, regulation on harvesting, technology, l’ y f ocal level management, landscape related data, over a time span and so on. These information are being documented under landscape, lifescape, peoplescape, and t imescape. Thus, f l’ biodiversity register includes: ? knowledge of local biological resources, their traditional knowledge associated with them, ? data about the local aid & practitioner uses of biological resources, ? details about biological resources & knowledge. 4. 4 Major ways of Collecting Data for PBR ? Interviews of individual ? Group interviews ? Few observation by volunteers and technical support group ? Existing official document 4. Interconnectedness in an Ecosystem 5. PAYMENTECOSYSTEM SERVICES 4. ECOSYSTEM SERVICES 1. BIODIVERSITY ECOSYSTEM 3. LIVELIHOOD DEPENDENCE 2. ECO-TOURISM Figure 6: Interconnectedness in a Ecosystem 16 Humans are now most concerned with the exploitation and preservation of the biotic constituents for commercial harvest and recreation. To achieve these goals, we must be aware of the interconnectedness of the ecosystem which exhibits not only the characteristics of its components, but also characteristics of its own which arise from combinations and interactions of the components (as shown in figure 6).
The interconnected mesh can be more clearly explained as: b iodiversity is the living part of ecosystem – with biodiversit y eco-tourism can be developed – eco (tourism) is a major source of livelihood – ecosystem also provides various kinds of services correspond to livelihood and biodiversity – thus payment for ecosystem services – this in turn can help in preserving the biodiversity. 17 V. SUNDARBAN – A Special Ecosystem Map 1: Sundarban Eco-region 5. 1 Sundarban Eco-region: Introduction
The Sundarban Delta Complex (map 1), having geo-genetic link to the tectonic Bengal Basin, geographically extends over the eastern India (40%) and Bangladesh (60%). It is characterized by prolific growth of rich and diversified mangrove vegetation and forms an integral down drift coastal part of the Bengal Delta Complex that overlies huge thickness of Tertiary marine sediments of the actively subsiding Bengal Basin. It is a cluster of 102 miracle islands, form the largest mangrove delta complex on the globe in 18 he estuarine phase of the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers, and constitute a unique Biosphere Reserve in the coastal Bay of Bengal. The deltaic complex was declared a reserved forest in 1875-76, under the Forest Act, 1865. A Forest Division was created in 1879 with headquarters in Khulna. The Reserve Forest has been nominated for recognition as a Ramsar Site (A Wetland of International Importance). (www. portal. gsi. gov. in/) “Sundarban” literally means “beautiful jungle or forest” in Bengali language. The name Sundarbans may also have been derived from the Sundari trees (dominant species) that are omnipresent in this region.
This is a region of transition of fresh Ganga water and saline water of Bay of Bengal. Sundarban ecoregion features two characters — forest ecosystem and sand dunes. The forest ecosystem can again be divided into two clusters: freshwater swamp forests and mangroves. 5. 2 Sundarban freshwater swamp forests The Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests lay between the upland lower Gangetic plains moist deciduous forests and the brackish-water Sundarban mangroves bordering the Bay of Bengal. These are tropical a nd subtropical moist broad-leafed brackish swamp forests.
The fertile soils of the delta have been subject to intensive human use for centuries, and the eco-region has been mostly converted to intensive agriculture, with few enclaves of forest remaining. This eco-region is nearly extinct due to large-scale deforestation and settlement by human. 5. 3 Sundarban Mangroves Mangrove forest (picture 2) is a woody community that can be periodically submerged in sea water of the inter-tidal zone of tropical regions . They are the second highest source of primary production next to rainforests. They produce high detritus and release nutrients which are a food source of variety of organism.
Mangroves provide homes to variety of marine and terrestrial organisms. They act as nurseries and feeding grounds for many fish, shrimp and crustaceans and non-resident fish enter the mangroves to feed at high . M l y 19 f fb ’ . They not only provide a wealth of b yb l f l’ food web. As with most ecosystems, an intricate relationship exists between mankind and mangrove. Many indigenous costal residents rely on mangroves to sustain their traditional cutlass. They have been sustainably used for food production, medicines, fuel wood, and fishery and construction materials.
They are important inter tidal estuarine wetlands along the coast line of tropical and sub-tropical region; are exposed to autersopogenic contamination fro m tidal water, river water and land based sources and Sundarban mangrove ecosystem being no exception. Picture 2: Trees of Sundarban Mangrove Special Feature of Mangrove Ecosystem 1. Adaptations to low oxygen : Red mangroves, which can survive in the most inundated areas, prop themselves above the water level with stilt roots and can then absorb air through pores in their bark (lenticels).
Black mangroves live on higher ground and make many pneumatophores (specialised root -like structures which stick up out of the soil like straws for breathing) which are also covered in lenticels. These “breathing tubes” typically reach heights up to thirty centimeters, and in some species, over three meters. There are four types of pneumatophore — stilt or prop type, snorkel or peg type, knee type, and ribbon or plank type. Knee and ribbon types may be combined with buttress roots at the base of the tree. The roots also contain wide aerenchyma to facilitate transport within the plant. 2.
Limiting water loss: Because of the limit ed fresh water available in salty intertidal soils, mangroves limit the amount of water they lose through their leaves. They 20 can restrict the opening of their stomata (pores on the leaf surfaces, which exchange carbon dioxide gas and water vapour during photosynthesis). They also vary the orientation of their leaves to avoid the harsh midday sun and so reduce evaporation from the leaves. Anthony Calfo, a noted aquarium author, observed anecdotally a red mangrove in captivity only grows if its leaves are mis ted with fresh water several times a week, simulating the frequent tropical rainstorms. . Nutrient uptake: The biggest problem that mangroves face is nutrient uptake. Because the soil is perpetually waterlogged, there is little free oxygen. Anaerobic bacteria liberate nitrogen gas, soluble iron, inorganic phosphates, sulfides, and methane, which makes the soil much less nutritious. Pnuematophores (aerial roots) allow mangroves to absorb gases directly from the atmosphere, and other nutrients such as iron, fro m the inhospitable soil. Mangroves store gases directly inside the roots, processing them even when the roots are submerged during high tide. Evolution of Mangroves
From low tidal mudflat via high tidal mudflat with mangroves to shrimp pond, sandy silt content is lightly increasing. The content of macro elements and minerals is almost unchanged after depth as results of fairly stable, sedimentary source chronologically. Geochemical sedimentary evo lution is visually reflected in the regularly changing in geochemical indices, the content of nutrients and heavy metals. Mangroves often take shape in high tidal mudflat of estuaries, in where, sedimentary environment with fine grain is favourable for mangrove seeds to be stored, spring up and photosynthesiz e.
In return, the formation and development of mangrove forests, as a sedimentary trap, make the sedimentary environment more favourable for depositing of fine grain sediments rich in clay minerals. Sedimentary deposition rate in mangrove forest tends to be higher than in Thus, these processes are natural companion of the environmental transform from low tidal mudflat without mangroves (permanently being under water) into high tidal mudflat covered with mangroves (alternatively being under water). The evolution is depicted in the figure 7 below. 21 Figure 7: Evolution of Mangroves
The transform of low tidal mudflat without mangroves into high tidal mudflat is characterized by a little increase in content of Fepyrite, Statal, Spyrite, Sreduction. The raising in amount of sulphurs can be understood as consequence of higher amount of mangrove root, which is the main sulphur source. The content of sulphurs increase after sedimentary depth in low tidal mudflat is more intensively than that in high tidal mudflat. This may also relate to increasing sulphur source in tidal mudflat. In addition, var iation coefficients of sulphurs content in mangrove forest sediment are higher than those in low tidal mudflat.
Thus, the transform process through these two environments leads to stronger sulphurs differentiation. Under the right conditions like the formation of a mud -flat, growth of mangroves is initiated. Stabilization of mud-flats is a preliminary process in the establishment of mangroves. Pioneer plant species initiate this process. The roots of these plants help in binding the soil and also help the establishment of micro -organisms which further help in stabilizing the area. Stabilization starts from the land side and gradually shifts towards the sea.
The pioneer plants are spec ies like Porterasia coarctata and some members of the Cyprus family. These are slowly replaced by other mangrove plants and then these mangroves gradually spread towards the sea. Once mangroves grow, the submerged banks are fully stabilized. Then the plant s slowly reach a stage which is called the climax vegetation. A climax vegetation of mangroves is represented by the complete circle of life where there are different species of plants, animals (both terrestrial and aquatic) and micro -organisms forming an ecosystem called the tropical salt marsh or the mangrove ecosystem.
In case the sediments are not 22 stabilized, submerged banks are washed out. Thousands of deltas are formed and washed out every year before they can be stabilized. In the Gangetic delta this situation is quite common. Zonation in mangrove 1. Proximal Zone (Front mangroves): This zone is towards water front, subject to regular tidal effect where intensity of soil accumulation and inundation is a continuous process. The mangrove species in this zone are specially adapted with stilt roots, prop roots for stability and anchorage. Main species with these features are Rhizophora apiculata and Rhizophora mucronata.
On rocky and coral reef substrata, Avicennia Spp, Sonneratia Caseolaris are also found. Both Avicennia and Sonneratia produce pneumatophores. 2. Middle Zones (Mid mangroves): Above the Rhizophora/ Avicennia line luxuriant group of Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, B. Cylindrica, Lumnitzera racemosa, L. littoralis, Ceriops tagal and Aegiceras corniculatum occur. Ceriops and Bruguiera develop a strong hold fast in the form of knee roots or bent roots as a special adoption for supporting the erect bole. 3. Distal Zone (Back mangroves): Towards island area mangroves like Excoecaris agallocha, Heritiera littoralis and Xylocarnus spp occur.
Both Heritiera and Xylocarpus produce buttresses. Generally the salinity is on lower side in this zone occurring towards hill sides where run off of fresh water is for a prolonged period. The duration of tidal submersion is low in this zone compared to front mangroves. However, the zonation in mangroves is not so simple and varies from place to place. Every species has its own level of salinity tolerance. Estuaries on east coast show distinct zonation. The high salinity range on the east coast estuaries may be the principal reason for distinct zonation there.
The range and force of tidal action also play a determinant role in creation and maintenance of zones as distribution of seeds or propagules is influenced by tidal action. Also, tides do influence the salinity in an estuary. Land Formation in mangrove ecosystem 23 During high tide silts take a way into the creeks. And when low tide starts the water recedes but the silts are deposited. This is the natural way of sedimenta tion. In this way the land is formed in mangrove ecosystem (figure 8 (a)). But the newly formed land is fragile in nature. Additionally the seeds of mangroves fall on this area and there they grow up.
The roots of mangrove with its special characteristics hold up the soil. This prevents soil erosion and holds up the land. And the settlement grows around that. This is used for cultivation also. When embankment is built artificially to cultivate and to protect the land from being flooded the natural process o f land formation is hampered. Silt deposition does not take place. Also the mangroves which used to be there die down. The land becomes more fragile and during high tide or during flood the water table increases more than it would previously. The purpose of embankment fails here.
It hampers the natural land formation and also destroys the mangrove ecosystem (figure 8 (b)). (a) (b) Figure 8: (a) Natural Land Formation and (b) Land Formation Due To Embankment in Mangrove Ecosystem 5. 4 Sand-Dunes: Ecological set-up At the most basic level dunes are simply piles of sand. Wind and waves transport sand onto the beach forming dunes. It results from stabilization of transported sediment, sea weed, debris by vegetation. It is also related to tidal fluctuation. Further accretion results in beach elevation. Migrating dunes helps to keep habitation being exposed to sea.
Dune ridges are formed by surface wind w ith velocity more than 4. 5 m/s when sand sized 24 particles move by siltation. Travelling dunes bury areas in eroding coast. In stable coast dunes stabilize 90o to wind direction. Sand tends to be blown from the windward face and to accumulate on the leeward side. Dunes (picture 3) are found in Sundarban ecosystem which help protects mangroves. Tidal flow causes the formation of the mangrove and the formation of the sand dunes is caused by the wind flows. Thus tidal flow and wind flow works together in Sundarbans and creates the special features of this region, i. . , mangroves and sand dunes which lead to the formation of the beach. The beach here is rich in biodiversity and Sundarban is developing a very good kind of beach-centric ecotourism. Picture 3: Sand-dunes of Sundarban Eco-system 5. 5 Biodiversity of Sundarban A brief account of the floral and faunal diversity in Sundarban is shown in the picture 4 below. Some common mangrove species can be jotted down as: ? Hatal(Phoenix paludosa) ? Genwa (Excoecaria agallocha) ? Dhundul(Xylocarpus granatum) ? Kankra (Bruguirea gymnorrhiza) ? Champa(Bruguiera parviflora) ? Dhani ghas (Porteresia coarctata) Garjan (Rhizophora apiculata) ? Keora (Sonneratia apelata) ? Sundari tree (Heritiera fomes) ? Golpati( Nypa frutcans) (www. portal. gsi. gov. in/) 25 There are also many faunal species in this region: (www. portal. gsi. gov. in/) BENGALTIGER (Panthera tigris tigris): At present there are about 250-300 tigers in Sundarban. This is the nominate species of the eight sub-species of tigers found in the world. Tigers are the apex predat ors of this mangrove eco -system. They are right at the top of the food chain. The Sundarban t igers are extraordinary beasts.
Perfectly at home both on land and water, it is known to cross more than one river at time to find food. The Sundarban tiger preys mainly on cheetal or spotted deer, wild boar, goats and livestock. It is a nocturnal and ambush predator. Picture 4: Sundarban Ecosystem Biodiversity JUNGLE CAT (Felis chaus): This is a stout bodied cat found in Sundarbans. It is a nocturnal animal which preys on small animals. This cat is often met with in Sundarbans. It is a good climber and an ambush predator. LEOPARD CAT (Felis bengalensis): This cat is an agile climber and a good swimmer. It preys on birds, bats, hares and fawns.
FISHING CAT (Prionailurus viverrina): This is a powerfully built cat. It is a nocturnal predator and an expert swimmer. It is known to dive in water to catch fish hence the 26 name. It also preys on small and medium size animals such as wild pigs and cheetal fawns. WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa): This animal is often seen in Sundarbans. This is a heavily built animal. It is basically a herbivore but is also known to take small animals, insects and even carrion. This animal also acts as a prey species for the tiger. CHEETAL OR SPOTTED DEER (Axis axis): This is the only deer found in Sundarban.
It is also the most common deer in India. It is a herbivore. This animal is the major prey for the tigers. It is commonly seen near water holes. COMMON KRAIT (Bungarus caeruleus): This is the most venomous snake in India. This is strictly nocturnal snake. It feeds mainly on snakes. BLACK CAPPED KINGFISHER (Halcyon pileata): This is a common bird of the Sundarbans. Seen frequently on river banks. It feeds mainly on fish and crabs. GOLIATH HERON (Ardea goliath): This common bird of Sundarbans is huge in appearance. It is a solitary creature. It feeds mainly on fish and frogs.
LESSER ADJUTANT STORK (Leptoptilos javanicus): Normally solitary. Feeds on fish, frogs and reptiles. BRAMHINY KITE (Haliastur indus): This is a raptor which is often found besides water bodies such as lakes, pools, ponds and rivers. It feeds on fish, frogs, snakes, small mammals and bats. In addition to this Sundarban has few species of sharks the most common being the INDIAN DOG SHARK (Scoliodon laticaudus): There are also dolphins to be found in Sundarbans the most common being the Gangetic dolphin (Platinista gangetica) to name a few. COMMON KRAIT (Bungarus caeruleus): This is the most venomous snake in India.
This is strictly nocturnal snake. It feeds mainly on snakes. 27 BLACK CAPPED KINGFISHER (Halcyon pileata): This is a common bird of the Sundarbans. Seen frequently on river banks. It feeds mainly on fish and crabs. GOLIATH HERON (Ardea goliath): This common bird of Sundarbans is huge in appearance. It is a solitary creature. It feeds mainly on fish and frogs. LESSER ADJUTANT STORK (Leptoptilos javanicus): Normally solitary. Feeds on fish, frogs and reptiles. BRAMHINY KITE (Haliastur indus): This is a raptor which is often found besides water bodies such as lakes, pools, ponds and rivers.
It feeds on fish, frogs, snakes, small mammals and bats. INDIAN DOG SHARK (Scoliodon laticaudus). There are also dolphins to be found in Sundarbans the most common being the Gangetic dolphin (Platinista gangetica) to name a few. 5. 6 Livelihood in Sundarban Agriculture is the main occupation of the local people. Rain-fed, mono-cro “ ” paddy is grown in t his area. Before the introduction of HYVs, they cultivated salt tolerant varieties of rice like Paknai, Barhal, Talmugur, Gopalbhog, Gulshi, Bolan etc. Occasional inundation of paddy fields by brackish water gave rise to a paddy-cum-fishery system.
During agricultural lean period, locals get involved in fishing, honey collection. 49% of the households directly extracted forest resources for their livelihood, including 98 % of the landless forest fishers. Almost all remaining households depended partly on the forest resources. The forest fishers, traders and some of the labourers directly depended on forest resources, earning money from either selling or processing these resources. Most of the farmers and service holders depended on forest resources indirectly because they used forest resources for their households (for food, fuelwood, building materials etc).
It was a clear trend that the higher the household income, the higher the dependency on forest resources. Main livelihood percent of households: Fishery-32, Farming-25, Labour-15, Trade-13, Service-5, Other-10. Some livelihood forms are shown in picture 5. 28 C Picture 5: Some Livelihood Forms in Sundarban 5. 7 Utilization of mangrove resources comprised •F :F •F l • F y ll •B l y b .; from various trees; ; l :G l ( y l) b . There are some medicinal plants in the mangroves, but t hese are not utilized. Most of the households depended entirely on fu el wood for cooking.
This demand causes rapid depletion of forest and consequently the ecosystem, as well as air pollution and health problems. Once upon a time logging was practiced in felling mode, but now in selective mode. When carried out in felling mode, the result can be er osion of the exposed ground and impoverishment of the soil within the affected area. In se lective mode, as carried out at present, the removal of many valuable species can still damage the ecosystem, and in this mode, the space of the removed individual tr ees may be taken by other, less valuable, species. In either case, the forest resources become less valuable.
Fish is the potential source of protein of the people of Bangladesh. Many people of the Sundarban households totally depend on fishing, usually by nets that are very effective but catch all fishes. Sometimes po isoning is applied, with severe environmental impacts. Tourists can enjoy the sight of fishing by trained otters. Shrimp cultivation is profitable business, and is totally dependent on natural fry. People collect fry from the river by nets of small mesh, with severe consequences to a multitude of other species. 5. 8 Recent Developments and their impacts 29
Recent introduction of HYV seeds has led to increased dependence on chemical fertilizers, pesticides & external sources of seeds dominated by corporate sector. M f HYV’ b f f. Occurrence of recent cyclones made them realise the need for preservation & cultivation of indigenous species. Lack of alternate emplo yment opportunities, loss of land, population pressure & poverty increases the dependence on forest for timber & Non-Timber Forest Produces (NTFPs). Destructive capture method of tiger prawn culture has replaced the traditional aquaculture in paddy fields. Corporate sector is making money, Meendharas are being employed.
Over 1000 juveniles of other fish species are destroyed to catch a single tiger prawn seedling (DISHA, 2006). W f l b b ’l l b en subjected to uncertainty. What they could obtain for their livelihood from the forest easily, is now restricted. This poses a difficulty for their subsistence. So they get involved in illegal cutting which adversely affect the ecosystem. 5. 9 Man-animal Conflict Local people in Sundarban are immensely dependent on the forest for their day to day activities and also for their living. Honey collectors, wood cutters, leaf collectors and fishermen are sometimes killed by tiger inside the forest.
Sundarban tig er treats human as a normal prey in forest. Every village in fringes have large number of widows of tiger . T f y ‘B b b ’ (picture 6) ‘D k y’ irrespective of all religions. To reduce potential tiger attack, t hey experiment with Human Masks (picture 7) at the back of their head. 30 Picture 6: Bonbibi Picture 7: Human Masks 5. 10 Threats to Sundarban and climatic vulnerability ? Recurrent coastal flooding (picture 8) due to climate change (global warming) causes changes in sea level (rise in sea level). 26 Picture 8: Effects of Coastal Flooding Reduced flow of sweet water into Sundarban mangrove system. ? Extension of non-forestry land use into mangrove forest. ? The Barrier: a) Man-animal conflict: Straying of tigers into villages. b) Human-human conflict: Villagers Vs. foresters. ? Population pressure and increased demand for small timber and fuel wood for local consumption. ? Poaching of tiger, spotted deer, wild boar, marine ? Uncontrolled collection of prawn seedlings. ? Uncontrolled fishing in the water of Reserve forests. 31 turtles, horse-shoe crab etc. ? Continuous trampling of river/creek banks by fishermen and prawn seed collectors. Chemical pollution through marine paints and hydrocarbons & also agricultural run-off containing chemical fertilizers & pesticides. ? Lack of employment opportunities in the forest fringe areas, locals moving to adjacent states for jobs, girl trafficking. ? Organizational and infrastructural deficiencies lead to corporate extortion in agriculture & aquaculture. ? Tourism can be viewed as one such threat to the ecosystem. Tourism has its negative impacts on the ecosystem which are pressure on carrying capacity of the ecosystem which may sometime leads to deforestation & destruction of endangered species.
Environmental pollution & depletion of natural resources are seen almost everywhere with more tourist visit. 32 VI. ECOTOURISM at BAKKHALI: A fringe part of Sundarban 6. 1 Bakkhali Bakkhali is a coastal area in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, India (map 2). It is located on one of the many deltaic islands spread across southern Bengal. This small island juts out into the vast expanse of the Bay o f Bengal. It has a 7 k m long beach stretching from Bakkhali to Frasergunj, a twin beach with gently rolling waves. Casuarina trees line up the beach like guarding wall, which adds up to the beauty of the beach. wikipedia) 6. 2 Accessibility By road Map 2: Bakkhali, a small part of South-West West Bengal It is 125 km by road from Joka tram terminus. The road runs through Diamond Harbour and Kakdwip to Namkhana, where the car o r bus has to be transported across the Hatania-Doania creek in a special ferry. The ferry service is available from 7AM -11PM except from 12 noon till 1:45PM (lunch hour). The fare for crossing a Car/Jeep is approx Rs 160 + Rs 30 toll (including loading/unloading). 33 By bus WBSTC has regular bus service from Esplande to Bakkhali(150 kms).
One starts at 7AM in the morning from Esplande and reaches Bakkhali at around 11:30AM and leaves from Bakkhali after half an hour for Kolkata (Esplande). By train The nearest rail station is at Namkhana. There are regular trains from Sealdah via Lakshmikantapur and Kakdwip to Namkhana. The first train starts at around 4AM from Sealdah. Train fare is around Rs 22 and the journey takes around 3 hrs. From Namkhana station you will get a van rickshaw to reach the place from where you need to cross a narrow creek in a small boat. Van fare is Rs 5 per head or Rs 30 if you reserve a van and for crossing the creek you need to pay Rs 1.
Then from the bus stand one can get buses for Bakkhali which take around 45mins to 1hr and their fare is Rs 13. The Bakkhali bus stand is very close to all the hotels and just a 5 min walk from the beach. This place is competing with other beach tourist spots – Digha, Mandarmani, Sankarpur. It is good for overnight stay. 6. 3 Uniqueness The slope of Bakkhali is towards the sea hence it is less prone to tidal waves. It is not difficult to observe various invertebrate species like crabs, sea animal, starfish etc. , which were observed along the shore line.
While bigger crabs live in the dry sand further away from the sea, the smaller ones live in the muddy shores nearer to the sea. Various species l k ‘S of m ’ ‘H l’ ‘G l ’ ‘H j ’ ‘K k ’ K ’ ‘G ’ . found here. Due to its sandy habitat, Xerophytic vegetation is found here. Also because of its unique flora and fauna, Bakkhali attracts many migratory birds. Its mud banks provide the birds a perfect ground for foraging on the marine invertebrates. For all these natural biodiversity, Bakkhali attracts lots of tourists. 34 The Forest Department maintains a mangrove trail which is also a source of attraction for tourists.
This growth of lucrative tourism again attracts not only private Picture 9: Notable Features of Bakkhali Beach investment (hotel business) but also migrants (some people who work in hotels, sells fast food near the beach etc. ) from fringe areas. Such in surge often creates ecological imbalances. Most of the inhabitants in Bakkhali are migrants settled from Midnapore and Bangladesh (although quite a large no of people can be found as aborigine). Both spring & neap tides are observed in the region, though the duration of high tide is only a few hours in a day.
Coastal landforms include: back dunal mudflats, back-swamps coast-parallel older stabilized dune ridges & younger mobile dunes. Low gradient supratidal and inter-tidal beaches with mud bank, tidal flats etc. & offshore bars develop locally in patches in the moist and depressed areas. The sand dunes serve an important function by acting as a barrier between the sea and the habitat near the sea thereby protecting them. These notable features of Bakkhali beach are shown in picture 9. 6. 4 Frasergunj, Henry Island and Jwambudwip
Fish trawlers anchor in Frazergunj Fishing Harbour (picture 10) as co-operative fishing is carried out here under Benfish. Dominant species that are harvested in winter are prawn, promfret and marine bhetki. Marine bhetki is the most valuable species because of its consumption and medicinal values (liver oil and capsule coating are highly demanded by pharmaceutical industries). Entry fee is imposed to restrict entry in Henry Island (picture 11). Fresh water aquaculture (“b ”) .T f we can get an overview of the mangrove canopy. Jambudwip is a deserted island where drying of fishes is practiced (sutki industry).
This is mainly an export industry which leads to high export earnings. 35 Picture 10: Frasergunj Picture 11: Henry Island 6. 5 Floral Diversity at Bakkhali & Henry Island (picture 12) Name Scientific Name Location Characteristics Use-Values Gewa Excoecaria agallocha Leaves become orange when rather mature. The timber is used for making wood-charcoal and fire-crackers. Kankra Bruguiera gymnorrhiza Rhizophora apiculata Blume Aegiceras corniculatum West Bengal Govt. Forest Range, Bakkhali. Do. Do. It has breathing roots. Do. It bears small white flowers. Do. Pneumatophores are prominent. Three types of Baen: a) Piyara Baen. b) Kalo Baen. ) Sada Baen. Garjan Kholshi. Baen. Avicennia alba Blume(kalo baen) Avicennia marina (Forsk. ) Vierh. (piyara baen) Chionlata. Goran. Do. Hargoja. Acanthus illicifolius Do. Hental. Phoenix paludosa Roxb. Casuarina sp Famous for good-quality nectar, yielding good quality honey. Source of animal fodder. In humans, it has medicinal use as an antidiabetic. Do. Eucalyptus. Ceriops tagal (Perr. ) Robinson(Motth goran) Eucalyptus obliqua Do. Jhau It has red flowers. It has long and thin thorns. Types of Goran:Motth Goran,Jelly Goran. Exotic species from Australia. It has a long, white trunk. Do. It is a shrub having small and sharp thorns.
It has thin and long thorns, looks like a short palm. It has long slender leaves. Do. 36 Used in paper & textile industry, also has medicinal values. Provides a camouflaging background for tiger. The dry leaves are used as fuel for cooking. Golpata. Nypa fruticans (Thunb. ) Wurmb. Do. Looks like a short palm tree. Leaves are used as thatching material. Picture 12: Floral Diversity at Bakkhali & Henry Island 6. 6 Faunal Diversity at Bakkhali & Henry Island (picture 13) Name Scientific Name Category Location Characteristics Green Bee Eater Rufous Treepie. Whimbrel. Avifauna (Aves) Do. Green in colour with a long slender beak.
White-throated Kingfisher. Spotted deer Estuarine crocodile. Hermit crab. Do. Sea Beach, Bakkhali. W. B. Forest Range, Bakkhali. Sea Beach, Bakkhali. W. B. Forest Range, Bakkhali. Do. Do. Do. Axis axis Mammal. Reptile. Arthropod. Red Crab. Ocypode sp. Do. Sea Beach, Bakkhali. Do. Sand-bubbler crab. Fiddler crab. Dotilla sp. Do. Do. Uca spp. Do. Marine worm. Diopatra cuprea Annelid. Sea Beach, Bakkhali. Star fish. Jelly fish. Asterias sp. Metridium sp. Echinoderm. Cnidarian. Do. Do. 37 Long tail with black, brown & white colours. Curved beak, white & brown in colour. Colourful (blue,red) with red long beak,built for catching fishes.