Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Thursday, March 23, 2023

Economic study pegs value for Sundarbans and other tiger reserves

 KOLKATA: Tiger reserves may not be solely about conservation. They also have tremendous economic value, the first ever Economic Valuation of Tiger Reserves in India, published by the Centre for Ecological Services Management (CESM) and Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal, a couple of months ago has revealed. Of the six reserves studied, Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (STR) sequestrates the highest volume of carbon. This was valued at Rs 46.2 crore per year. The service provided by STR in moderating cyclones is also worth Rs 27.5 crore per year.
"The current study on 'Economic Valuation of Tiger Reserves in India: A VALUE+ Approach' with support from the National Tiger Conservation Authority is a first-of-its-kind study in the world. The study attempts to provide an assessment of economic benefits from tiger reserves across a range of tiger landscapes in India. While a large proportion of benefits that these tiger reserves provide are difficult to estimate, the study provides quantitative and qualitative estimates of those benefits which manifest their important but unaccounted national and global contribution. These findings provide adequate justification for enhanced investment in such areas which is critical to ensure continued flow of vital life-supporting ecological, economic, social and cultural services from these genetic repositories," Prakash Javadekar, Union minister of state (independent charge) for environments, forests and climate change wrote about the report.
According to the report, the total forest cover in the Indian Sundarbans is 2,585 square km. Declared a biosphere reserve in 1989, STR has at least 1,586 species of Protozoa and Animalia apart from 69 floral species belonging to 29 families. Nearly 270,000 people live in the 46 fringe villages around STR. The report notes that STR is a source of regular employment for the local communities living in the vicinity. In 2013-14, a total of 157,600 man-days were generated by the Tiger Reserve for various management activities in which local communities were involved. "Conservatively using the wage rate for unskilled labour of Rs 206 per man-day prevalent in the area, the economic value of employment generated by STR is estimated to be Rs 3.25 crore per annum," the report states.