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Mangrove Eco-system and their Multifunctionalities: An Analysis of the Provision of Economic and Environmental Livelihoods to the Fishermen Communities in the South-East Coast of India

Author(s): T. Sathya | C. Sekar

Journal: Trends in Agricultural Economics
ISSN 1994-7933

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 31;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: willingness to pa | externalities | Mangroves | travel cost method | free riders

A study was conducted to analyze the direct and indirect benefits of Pitchavaram Mangrove Forests (PMF)in the south east coast region of Tamil Nadu, India, where the concentration of mangrove biosphere is substantial. For the study,30 numbers each of i. Fishermen and ii. Tourists were personally contacted. About 75% of the respondents depended mangrove area for fishing while coastal area was the source of fish catch for only 25% of sample respondents. Among the tourists respondents, only 3.3% were foreigners, 10% were from other states and the rest were domestic visitors. Most of tourists were young and middle aged and about 43% had a monthly income of Rs.15001 to 30000. It is understood that high income and educated people showed more interest in visiting places of natural origin. People who travelled by own vehicles had higher visitation rate of 50% than those travelling by hired vehicles owing to the high cost of hired vehicles. The principal products collected by local stakeholders were firewood, fodder and timber. The Individual Travel Cost Method (ITCM) was used to estimate the recreational value and the determinants of visitation rate. The marital status had a negative influence on visitation rate. It was found out that bachelors had made more frequent trips to PMF than the families. The monthly income was also significant and had the expected relationship. Travel cost had a significant influence on frequency of visits. The price elasticity of demand for recreational visit was estimated to be -0.1566. It indicated that the visitation rate was inelastic with respect to the travel cost i.e. one per cent increase in travel cost would result in only 0.1566% reduction in visitation rate. The option value of conserving the PMF was estimated using contingent valuation method using the bidding game technique. The fishermen were willingness to pay an amount of Rs.1763 towards internalizing externalities. The catchment area, monthly income and duration of fishing were positively related to Willingness To Pay (WTP) and were significant. It is implicit from the analysis that duration of fishing and fishing area (near mangrove) influenced the WTP significantly. Household expenditure of a fisherman had been positively related to the duration of fishing. The major findings of the regression results regarding the overall impact of PMF was that the people who entered into fishing and other mangrove dependent occupations had extensively improved their standard of living. The additional money generated from tourism by tourist dependents encouraged the households to incur more on luxurious goods. Positive externalities like shoreline protection, increased fish catch and enhanced income, utilization of non -timber forest products, control of soil erosion, water retention and purification of water by mangrove forests were the other environmental benefits. The study came out with the policy that the optimal exploitation of mangrove biosphere by the end users should be ensured by the enforcement authorities. Both the state and central institutions should protect the mangrove ecology and sea-shore through stringent adoption of regulatory mechanisms. The local institutions should also be empowered adequately to deal with the free-riders; so that the mangroves will be promoted on large scale since off-shore fishing has been the lifeline of the poor and marginalized fisher folk in coastal regions.
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