Can Mangroves Minimize Property Loss during Big Storms? An Analysis of House Damage due to the Super Cyclone in Orissa (2009)

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Storm protection is an important regulating service provided by mangrove forests because they can shield inland property and lives during tropical cyclones. Theoretical as well as empirical research shows that mangroves provide protection from storm surge. But whether mangroves protect inland static property during storms is less explored. This paper estimates the storm protection benefits due to mangroves during the super cyclone of 1999 in Orissa. By combining GIS data with census information, the paper examines the mangrove mediated effects on residential property in the Kendrapada district of Orissa. The analyses suggest that the percentage of fully collapsed houses in the study area would have increased by 23% without the benefit of mangrove protection. On the other hand, if the mangrove cover had remained at the level that it had been in the 1950s, the area would not have suffered any fully collapsed houses at all. The total protection benefits of mangroves in terms of averted damages to residential property in Kendrapada are estimated to be INR 592,647,800 (USD14, 110, 662). This suggests that mangrove forests provided protection benefits to houses to the extent of INR 975, 800 (USD 23,233) per km width of forests or INR 51,168 (USD 1218) per hectare of forests. Thus, policy makers need to take mangrove conservation and re-planting into account in planning for tropical storms, which are expected to increase with global warming.
Imprint: The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) Kathmandu 2009
Series: SANDEE Working Paper, No. 42-09
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