An Asset for Cultivating Coastal Resilience

The Mumbai metropolitan region, with more than 20 million people, is one of the densest urban centres where the majority of the population lives in lowelevation coastal zones. As such, Mumbaikars are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change including sea level rise (SLR), increased storm events and coastal flooding. However, Mumbai is partially protected by 60 km2 of mangrove forests lining its coastline: an invaluable but underappreciated asset to the city’s long-term resilience.

Mangrove wetlands are set to play a very crucial role in climate change since they are at the front line of SLR in tropical regions. Mangroves are a community of trees, shrubs and other plant species that grow in brackish to saline tidal waters of tropical coastlines (Mitsch & Gosselink, 2015). They are highly productive habitats for coastal organisms and provide critical ecosystem services that provide stability to shorelines against erosion and protect inland areas from hurricane or tidal wave damage (Mitsch & Gosselink, 2015: 311; Odum and Heald, 1972; Gedan et al. 2011). Hence they have to be preserved as an integral element of any coastal protection system. Mumbai’s mangroves are only a remnant of what was lost to urban development since its founding as a city. However, the remnants of this protective system are further threatened by infrastructural interventions and visions that overlook – and outright destroy – the potential of these landscapes to protect the city’s increasingly vulnerable coastline.