Sustainable Financing Mechanism for Conservation of Mangroves and Marine Biodiversity

Mangrove Cell
Published: 24 September 2018
Last edited: 09 July 2019
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The Western Indian State of Maharashtra, with a coastline of 720 km has 30,000 hectares of mangroves, a third of which is in the metropolitan city of Mumbai and its suburbs. The Provincial Government of Maharashtra set up the Mangrove Cell in January 2012 for protection of the mangrove ecosystem. Despite teething troubles like staff shortage and financial constraints, the Mangrove Cell succeeded in increasing the mangrove cover of Maharashtra by 63% (from 186 sq. km in 2013 to 304 sq. km in 2017). To ensure sustainability of its mangrove protection efforts, and marine biodiversity conservation initiatives under its two externally aided projects (supported by UNDP-GEF and GIZ), the Mangrove Cell created the “Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation” of Maharashtra. From the interest generated on its corpus of about USD 20 million, the Foundation finances the conservation of its mangroves, two Marine Protected Areas and a host of marine conservation programmes.


South Asia
Scale of implementation
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Coastal and marine spatial management
Protected area governance
Protected area management planning
Sustainable financing
Loss of Biodiversity
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 11: Protected areas


Maharashtra, India


  • Mangroves, coastal and marine biodiversity conservation requires an integrated approach and substantial financing. Funds from the government are restricted to protection of mangroves in areas owned by the government. The Mangrove Foundation, which complements the on-going mangrove protection efforts, has enabled a broader approach that blends ecosystem conservation while supporting the livelihood of thousands of coastal communities along the Maharashtra coast.
  • The Foundation implements sustainable aquaculture activities for the coastal communities. Since the success of these activities depends on a healthy ecosystem, this has particularly addressed the issue of conservation of mangroves in private lands and creeks which was not possible earlier.


Coastal communities, Fishers

Community-based organizations

Research and technical institutions

Independent researchers

How do the building blocks interact?

  • The Mangrove Foundation works in close coordination with the government department for planning and implementation of conservation programmes. While the government assumes the task of upholding the laws and regulation protecting the forests through the Mangrove Cell, the Foundation has been driving research, creating awareness, and initiating livelihood development programmes that support the conservation of mangroves, coastal and marine biodiversity. Funding from the Mangrove Foundation also helps the department tide over fluctuations in funding from the government.
  • As described earlier, the Foundation ensures the sustainability of biodiversity conservation interventions initiated under the externally-aided projects. Successful models of conservation are being scaled up in the remaining areas of the state. At the same time, community institutions, partnerships and networks developed during the projects are championing the cause of mangrove conservation as a part of the efforts driven by the Mangrove Foundation.
  • Successful efforts in mangrove protection, and biodiversity conservation, under UNDP-GEF and GIZ projects, were possible because of the government’s commitment to the cause of mangrove and marine biodiversity conservation.


  •  Since mangrove conservation issues are closely linked to the livelihood security of coastal communities, effective conservation efforts require active participation and livelihood generation for the local community. Considering the role of sustainable livelihoods in the conservation of mangroves, the government has recently initiated a programme on “Mangrove conservation and livelihood generation” in villages with a significant mangrove cover. Thus, going beyond the government driven conservation efforts, the programme intends to create a community based conservation of mangrove, coastal and marine ecosystem. This has also increased the budgetary support for conservation of mangroves and coastal ecosystems by an annual USD 2 million.
  • These livelihood interventions are being designed with women members of the community as the key drivers of the conservation programme. These committees, with support from the Mangrove Foundation, implement sustainable livelihood interventions that depend on a healthy coastal ecosystem. With more women members of these coastal communities being constantly encouraged to adopt suitable alternate livelihood options, there has been significant increase in their participation and decision making in the conservation efforts, and has increased their resilience to the effects of climate change.


In India, majority of funds for environment protection has traditionally been directed towards terrestrial areas. Although conservation of the coastal and marine ecosystems is implicit in the mandate of the government, the focus has been more on the boundaries of the land due to limited understanding of the marine environment. With increasing awareness, this has been gradually changed in the last few years.

In January 2012, the state of Maharashtra in India was the first in the country to set up a dedicated unit for the conservation of mangroves, the Mangrove Cell. The Cell was entrusted with the task of protecting the mangroves, coastal and marine biodiversity along the long 720 km coast. The Mangrove Cell realised early on, that to protect the biodiversity of the region, it was essential to collaborate with key players in the field of conservation.

Agreements with multilateral agencies like UNDP and GIZ supported the Cell with technical expertise and funds for an ecosystem approach to conservation. Through these Projects, the Cell was able to present a model of ecosystem conservation which extended beyond the traditional mangrove protection and plantation efforts. The Cell worked with the local communities to extend protection to mangroves, by promoting the organic link between healthy mangroves and revenue generation through sustainable livelihood activities.

To further support the cause for conservation, the government brought in legislative changes to mitigate the loss of mangroves. In a metropolitan like Mumbai, which is home to nearly one third of the mangrove cover in the state, urban infrastructural development often require diversion of mangrove areas. As per the norms required under the national legislations, the project proponents are required to support compensatory afforestation activities and provision mitigation funds calculated as per the Net Present Value of the mangrove forests affected due to the development projects. The provincial government, however, went a step ahead and called for additional funds for the protection of the coastal and marine ecosystems affected by developmental projects. This resulted in a corpus fund of USD 20 million. In order to utilise these funds in the most efficient manner, the government set up an autonomous organisation, the Mangrove Foundation, to take on the broader responsibility of mangrove and marine ecosystem conservation while the government body focuses on protection of mangrove forests.

Contributed by

manas manjrekar