Maharashtra forest department’s move to use satellite-imagery-based real-time monitoring of cover via an app is a noteworthy conservation effort.
Given mangroves are the first line of defence against coastal erosion, India has done a good job so far of conserving its mangrove cover. Between 2000 and 2015, the country saw less than 1% of the cover lost. However, mangroves are under increased pressure from coastal area development and urbanisation and land reclamation in coastal cities. While some loss because of anthropogenic causes is unavoidable, the need is to ensure that mangrove deforestation doesn’t happen mindlessly. To that end, the Maharashtra forest department’s move to use satellite-imagery-based real-time monitoring of cover via an app is a noteworthy conservation effort.
The app that is being developed by the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, an ISRO arm, will use satellite imagery to detect as small as 2-sq-mt loss of mangrove cover and send immediate alerts to select officials in the state. The app will also be used to study mangrove health, diversity and density. Many countries have been using advanced satellite imagery to monitor forest cover, but this app truly scores with real-time alerts, which means the losses can be contained to a much larger extent with immediate action. Nabbing debris mafia—Mumbai and adjoining coastal areas are seeing construction waste being illegally dumped in mangrove forests—and land encroachers will get easier.