Title: Assessment and valuation of wetland for improved development decision-making: A case study on mangrove wetland in Bangladesh
Author: Mijanur Rahman
Supervising Institution: IHE Delft - Institute for Water Education
The largest mangroves wetland locally named as Sundarban lies across the delta of three big rivers of Bangladesh. It offers a wide range of ecosystem services that contribute to the socio-economic development of a large number of coastal dwellers. However, concerns are arising recently about the degradation of mangroves resources due to human disturbances and development pressure, and thus reducing capacity of the mangroves to provide ecosystem services for human well-being. In spite of different policies, non-market values of the mangroves wetland are hardly considered for decision making in the development appraisal. The purpose of this study is to analyze the economic values of ecosystem services derived from the mangroves wetland for improved decision making in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. The study was conducted based on a survey of 100 households and focus group discussion in three villages adjacent to the Sundarban mangroves wetland. Data were collected through face to face interviews using structured questionnaires. The questionnaires were focused on the socio-economic background of households, perceptions of households on different wetland services and key drivers that influence local livelihoods and mangroves management, and household willingness to pay for mangroves wetland ecosystem services. Economic values of provisioning services were estimated based on the market values of mangroves products utilized by the households. Economic values of regulating and supporting services such as storm protection, erosion control, and breeding and nursery services were elicited from households willingness to pay for those services. The study revealed that the surveyed households perceived 18 different types of ecosystem services grouped into provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services. Of these, the most significant ecosystem services perceived by households were capture fisheries, fuel energy, storm protection, aesthetic enjoyment, and breeding and nursery services. The annual economic values of provisioning services to the local communities were estimated at US$ 394,478 per village. Of these, capture fisheries contributed US$ 271,153 per village. The elicited annual economic values of storm protection, erosion control and breeding and nursery services were US$ 3,523 per village, US$ 580 per village, and US$ 2,508 per village, respectively. However, over-exploitation of mangroves resources, salinity intrusion, lack of proper management and laws enforcement, and frequent extreme events undermined the mangroves wetland and, thus, the livelihoods of local communities. The Sundarban mangroves wetland is crucial for the provision of a wide range of ecosystem services that deliver significant socio-cultural, ecological and economic benefits to local communities. Provisioning services are central to households subsistence, regulating services grant protection, and breeding and nursery services support extensive fisheries production. The study has provided insight about the roles of mangroves wetland services in the well-beings of local communities, and would facilitate decision makers to understand the efficiency of a development policy and subsequent improvement of the mangroves resources and the well-beings of coastal communities. However, a comprehensive assessment and valuation of total ecosystem services derived from the Sundarban mangroves wetland would be imperative considering the wider ecological and socio-economic context.
Key words: Mangroves, ecosystem services, economic valuation, community, well-beings, welfare policy