Conference PaperPDF Available

Valuation of Ecosystem Services & Benefits of Son Beel Wetland in Assam, India: A Case Study of Natural Solutions to Climate Change & Water

Authors:
  • Voice of Environment (VoE)
  • Ecosystem Resource Management Pvt. Ltd. Surat

Abstract and Figures

Son Beel wetland is facing ecosystem marginalization where ecosystem services aren’t being priced & reflected in decision making which proves complete market failure. Agricultural produce from converted lake does not reflect values lost due to flood protection, fisheries, biodiversity etc. People who deteriorate are not the same whose livelihoods are affected leading to continued degradation of the wetland. Wetlands governance has so far been failing to address sectoral policies providing incentives leads to wetlands depletion. Son Beel is the home to diversity of fishes in particular to an important habitat for small & tinny fishes. There are about 500 families engaged in the net building & designing and these fisher folk communities are linked this wetland to local market networks. It has been estimated by state government report and records that there are more than 35,000 families directly dependent on the Beel for traditional fishing system. Evergreen Forest comprises 40% peripheral area of the Beel. Son Beel is an important habitat for some reptiles and other various aquatic species. This wetland is home for migrant Siberian birds for 3 months every year. Son Beel is abundantly rich in fish biodiversity and around 69 different fish species are found among which small fishes are the most (D.Kar et. al, 2006). The economic value is the monetary value of goods & services offered by wetlands in which people’s preferences are expressed through choices & trade-offs. Total Economic Value (TEV) is the sum of the values of all wetland ecosystem services flows from providers to beneficiaries over the given spatial & temporal scales. Economic valuation is a powerful tool since it provides means to measure & quantify trade-offs between multiple wetland uses (Barbier et al., 1997) via monetary matrices. Valuation of wetland ecosystem in India has some major gaps likewise; the confusion of terminologies between intermediate & final ecosystem services, has led to double-counting that can inflate values that can seriously impact the credibility of economic valuation. (Johnston & Russel, 2011). The gap of methodological challenges in linking ecosystem characteristics to final ecosystem services is a serious constraint to current valuation process. Lack of clear guidance on relating ecological compensation programmes to conservation targets is a major loophole in ecosystem valuation in India. We tried the best to mitigate these gaps in the ecosystem valuation of Son Beel Wetland. Major aim & objective of our valuation is to provide useful information inputs to the wetland governance to sustain wetland for multiple benefits. Development of ecological production functions & non market valuation methods need ecological & social data which is currently unavailable in India. We shall produce this paper before the State Government of Assam to take adequate measures in protection & conservation of wetlands. We estimated monetary value of Son Beel is from a minimum of $88/Hectare/year to maximum of $29,716/Hectare/Year. Son Beel provides a wide range of natural capital flow in terms ecosystem services for the life & livelihood of people & community. We need to ensure that wetland conservation, wise use & restoration are an integral part to SDGs planning & implementation. Integrating wetlands services & benefits in Nationally Determined Contributions for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is critical for achieving SDGs. Placing a value on nature’s ecosystem services shouldn’t be misconstrued as ‘putting a price on nature. The authors will strongly recommend the site should declare as Ramsar site of Wetland or such constructive steps should take by the authorities for its better conservation.
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Category 6 Climate Change as a Threat to Biodiversity
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Valuation of Ecosystem Services & Benefits of Son Beel Wetland in
Assam, India: A Case Study of Natural Solutions to
Climate Change & Water
Deepak Kumar1, Moharana Choudhury2, Ashok Rathore3
1. United Nations Development Programme, India
2. Voice of Environment (VoE), Guwahati, Assam, India
3. Biohm Consultare Pvt. Ltd Surat, Gujarat, India
Key words: wetlands, Son Beel, Karimganj, SDGs, climate change, valuation, TEEB, monetary value,
livelihoods, risk, adaptation
Son Beel wetland is facing ecosystem marginalization where ecosystem services aren’t being priced &
reflected in decision making which proves complete market failure. Agricultural produce from
converted lake does not reflect values lost due to flood protection, fisheries, biodiversity etc. People
who deteriorate are not the same whose livelihoods are affected leading to continued degradation of the
wetland. Wetlands governance has so far been failing to address sectoral policies providing incentives
leads to wetlands depletion. Son Beel is the home to diversity of fishes in particular to an important
habitat for small & tinny fishes. There are about 500 families engaged in the net building & designing
and these fisher folk communities are linked this wetland to local market networks. It has been estimated
by state government report and records that there are more than 35,000 families directly dependent on
the Beel for traditional fishing system. Evergreen Forest comprises 40% peripheral area of the Beel.
Son Beel is an important habitat for some reptiles and other various aquatic species. This wetland is
home for migrant Siberian birds for 3 months every year. Son Beel is abundantly rich in fish
biodiversity and around 69 different fish species are found among which small fishes are the most
(D.Kar et. al, 2006). The economic value is the monetary value of goods & services offered by wetlands
in which people’s preferences are expressed through choices & trade-offs. Total Economic Value (TEV)
is the sum of the values of all wetland ecosystem services flows from providers to beneficiaries over
the given spatial & temporal scales. Economic valuation is a powerful tool since it provides means to
measure & quantify trade-offs between multiple wetland uses (Barbier et al., 1997) via monetary
matrices. Valuation of wetland ecosystem in India has some major gaps likewise; the confusion of
terminologies between intermediate & final ecosystem services, has led to double-counting that can
CLIMATE2020 THE WORLDWIDE ONLINE CLIMATE CONFERENCE
Category 6 Climate Change as a Threat to Biodiversity
This work is published on the https://dl4sd.org platform under the Creative Commons Attribution-
ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
2
inflate values that can seriously impact the credibility of economic valuation. (Johnston & Russel,
2011). The gap of methodological challenges in linking ecosystem characteristics to final ecosystem
services is a serious constraint to current valuation process. Lack of clear guidance on relating
ecological compensation programmes to conservation targets is a major loophole in ecosystem
valuation in India. We tried the best to mitigate these gaps in the ecosystem valuation of Son Beel
Wetland. Major aim & objective of our valuation is to provide useful information inputs to the wetland
governance to sustain wetland for multiple benefits. Development of ecological production functions
& non market valuation methods need ecological & social data which is currently unavailable in India.
We shall produce this paper before the State Government of Assam to take adequate measures in
protection & conservation of wetlands. We estimated monetary value of Son Beel is from a
minimum of $88/Hectare/year to maximum of $29,716/Hectare/Year.
Son Beel wetland comprises a vast biodiversity of flora & fauna. This wetland offers a wide range of
ecosystem services that helps not only mitigating the impact of climate change but also provides a
natural solution to climate related risk reduction. The Son Beel (Shon Beel) is not only an important
wetland of Karimganj district of Assam but it is considered as one of the largest wetlands of Asia. The
Son Beel wetland lies in Ramkrishna Nagar (Town) block of Karimganj district. Son Beel offers local
an agricultural landscape for the production of rice during winter season when water level in the wetland
declines drastically to utilize the peripheral regime as paddy bowls of the State. From March onwards,
it turns up into an enormous mass of water body. The average depth of this wetland is very less so when
there is more rain, the lake overflows and the excess water flows through by Kakra River and finally
mix with the Kushira River which eventually goes into Bangladesh (Kar 1990).
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Fig. 1: Location Map of Son Beel Wetland
We did a holistic valuation of this wetland ecosystem from January, 2016 to December, 2018 which
signifies significant role of Son Beel in offering multiple ecosystem services that provides water
security, climate security, vulnerability reduction against water related disaster risks etc. Ecosystem
services are the benefits that the people, society & the economy receive from nature. For example: water
provision & purification, flood & storm control, carbon storage & climate regulation, food & materials
provision, scientific knowledge, recreation & tourism (MA, 2005a; TEEB, 2010, TEEB, 2011).
Wetlands work as natural infrastructure & networks of natural ecosystems that delivers a range of
important ecosystem services (Krchnak et al., 2011). Even with active restoration interventions, once
wetlands have been disturbed, they either recover slowly (over decades or centuries) or move towards
alternate states that differ from their original (pre-disturbance) state (Moreno-Mateos et al. 2012;
Mossman et al. 2012). In whatever case may be, loss & degradation of wetlands leads loss of depletion
of economic benefits of the ecosystem services, restoration of wetlands can restore some of those
benefits & hence deliver high economic benefit. Son Beel Wetland ecosystem services in the
management of water & wetland can help identify opportunities for: (1) better harnessing & maintaining
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the multiple benefits that ecosystem services related to water & Beel provide; (2) developing more cost-
effective strategies than conventional technical solutions can offer; & (3) avoiding costs related to
biodiversity depletion & ecosystem services.
We adopted TEEB, 2010 & TEEB, 2011 for our valuation of Son Beel Wetland. We have studied a set
of case studies on wetland valuation in India. Overall 4 valuation methodologies we have considered &
put the values in set of variables of Provisioning Services/PS, Regulating Services/RS, Supporting
Services/SS & Cultural Services/CS.
Revealed Preference: observing real market behaviour (Market price, production function
approaches, surrogate market approaches including travel cost/Hedonic pricing)
Cost Based Approaches: focus on cost related ecosystem services
(damage/replacement/maintenance expenditure)
Stated Preferences: observing hypothetical market behaviour
Benefit Transfer: Values imputed from an existing assessment
Photo: View of Son Beel Wetland
Photo Courtesy: Rahul Choudhury
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Agenda 2030 provides a broader roadmap for national & international policy action for governments,
civil society, private sector & other State/Non-State actors to achieve SDGs for our present & future
generations. Son Beel provides a wide range of natural capital flow in terms ecosystem services for the
life & livelihood of people & community. We need to ensure that wetland conservation, wise use &
restoration are an integral part to SDGs planning & implementation. Integrating wetlands services &
benefits in Nationally Determined Contributions for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is critical
for achieving SDGs. Placing a value on nature’s ecosystem services shouldn’t be misconstrued as
‘putting a price on nature. The authors will strongly recommend the site should declare as Ramsar
site of Wetland or such constructive steps should take by the authorities for its better conservation.
References:
Kar, D. and S.C. Dey (1990). Fish Disease Syndrome: a preliminary study from Assam Bangladesh
Journal of Zoology 18: 115-118.
TEEB (2010). The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Ecological and Economic Foundations.
Editor: Kumar P.. Earthscan, London and Washington.
TEEB (2011). The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity in National and International Policy
Making. Editor: ten Brink P.. Earthscan, London.
TEEB (2012a). The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Business and Enterprise. Editor
Bishop J., Earthscan, London.
Barbier E B, Acreman M C, Knowler D, 1997. Economic Valuation of Wetlands: A Guide for Policy
Makers and Planners.
Johnston R J, Russell M, 2011. An operational structure for clarity in ecosystem service values.
Ecological Economics, 70(12): 2243–2249. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.07.003
Krchnak K.M., Smith D.M., Deutz A. (2011). Putting Nature in the Nexus: Investing in Natural
Infrastructure to Advance Water-Energy-Food Security, Bonn2011 Conference: The Water, Energy and
Food Security Nexus Solutions for the Green Economy. Background Papers for the Stakeholder
Engagement Process.
Moreno-Mateos D., Power M.E., Comin F.A., Yockteng R. (2012). Structural and functional loss in
CLIMATE2020 THE WORLDWIDE ONLINE CLIMATE CONFERENCE
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6
restored wetland ecosystems. PLoS Biol. 10 (1), e1001247. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001247.
Mossman H.L., Davy A.J., Grant A. (2012). Does managed coastal realignment create saltmarshes with
‘equivalent biological characteristics’ to natural reference sites? J. Applied Ecology, doi:
10.1111/j.1365-2664.2012.02198.x.
Acknowledg ment
The authors are thankful to local residents for their cooperation during filed study. The authors are also
thankful to members of Voice of Environment (Youth Environmental Organization) for their
spontaneous support to carry out the research study and filed visit.
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Mangrove ecosystem is unique in nature that thrives in the intertidal zones of tropical and subtropical regions with regular tidal inundation. Mangrove species are morphologically and physiologically adapted to varying salinity condition. In this context Indian Sundarbans is an interesting test bed where salinity profiles in different segments vary differently. In this article, the spatio-temporal change in salinity during 1984 till 2016 was studied. Study shows an interannual increase in salinity in the central sector associated with climate change induced gradual sea-level rise, whereas interannual decreasing trend was seen in the western sector due to enhanced fresh water supply from glacier melt associated with global climate change.
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Full-text available
Mangrove ecosystem is unique in nature that thrives in the intertidal zones of tropical and subtropical regions with regular tidal inundation. Mangrove species are morphologically and physiologically adapted to varying salinity condition. In this context Indian Sundarbans is an interesting test bed where salinity profiles in different segments vary differently. In this article, the spatio-temporal change in salinity during 1984 till 2016 was studied. Study shows an interannual increase in salinity in the central sector associated with climate change induced gradual sea-level rise, whereas interannual decreasing trend was seen in the western sector due to enhanced fresh water supply from glacier melt associated with global climate change.
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Dr. Abhijit Mitra, Associate Professor and former Head, Dept. of Marine Science, University of Calcutta (India) has been active in the sphere of Oceanography since 1985. He obtained his Ph.D. as NET qualified scholar in 1994 after securing Gold Medal in M.Sc. (Marine Science) from University of Calcutta. He has to his credit about 553 scientific publications in various National and International journals, and 42 books of postgraduate standards. Dr. Mitra has successfully completed about 19 projects on biodiversity loss in fishery sector, coastal pollution, alternative livelihood, climate change and carbon sequestration. Dr. Mitra also visited as faculty member and invited speakers in several foreign Universities of Singapore, Kenya, Oman and USA. In 2008, Dr. Mitra was invited as visiting fellow at University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, USA to deliver a series of lecture on Climate Change. Dr. Mitra also successfully guided 38 Ph.D. students. Presently his domain of expertise includes environmental science, mangrove ecology, sustainable aquaculture, alternative livelihood, climate change, carbon sequestration and policy to counter climate change. Mr. Monruskin M. Calma, was born at Cabaruyan Island, otherwise known as “The Mother of the 100 Islands” in the Province of Pangasinan, Philippines. As a child and throughout his young adult life, Calma spent most of his summers and holiday vacations at Panacalan, the family Island at Cabaruyan Island, exploring the 100 Islands, tidal flats and marine life. This laid the foundation for Calma’s interest in Fisheries, Conservation and Education. Calma has a background in Chemistry from Saint Louis University and a Degree in Fishery Technology from the University of Pangasinan. He later became the Curator of the Marine Museum there and a Faculty at the High School Department. Calma immigrated to the United Sates in 1981. In 1989, he Graduated Cum Laude in Education from Bridgewater State College, the biggest State School in Massachusetts. Calma worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for 32 years as a Behavior Specialist, Psychologist I, and Service Coordinator and received numerous awards including the prestigious “Performance Recognition Award” in 2015 for outstanding performance, signed by Gov. Charles Baker. He is the Founder and the President of Calma Expeditions, Inc. a company registered with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, an adventure travel company with emphasis in Conservation, Education, and international linkage. He also co-founded and is the President of Music and Arts Innovations Group Inc., (MAI) a non-profit organization based in Brockton, Massachusetts. Dr. Shambhu Prasad Chakrabarty, is currently the Head and Research Fellow of the Centre for Regulatory Studies Governance and Public Policy (CRSGPP), the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (WBNUJS), Kolkata, India. He is also the visiting faculty at KIIT and WBNUJS. He is the Chief Editor of NUJS Journal of Regulatory Studies. His area of expertise is Tribal and Indigenous Laws and has authored ‘Tribal Rights in India’ from Partridge Singapore (2018). He also authored more than 30 articles and book chapters in Scopus indexed and Care listed Journals and presented research papers in more than 40 national and international conferences. He has been invited as a resource person in more than 20 national and international events and has been a WIPO Fellow in 2019. He was awarded with Gold Medal for winning Youth Parliament Competition by the Government of West Bengal, India. He topped his school at plus two level and college in his LLB Degree and topped the University of x Calcutta in his fourth year. He was conferred Ph.D. Degree in Law from North Bengal University in 2017. With more than 14 years of teaching experience Dr Chakrabarty is also a member of Law and Society Association, USA and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, London. Dr. Sufia Zaman, presently serving as Head, Department of Oceanography in Techno India University, West Bengal started her career in the field of Marine Science since 2001. She worked in the rigorous region of Indian Sundarbans and has wide range of experience in exploring the floral and faunal diversity of Sundarbans. She has published 5 books on carbon sequestration, 244 scientific papers and contributed chapters in several books on biodiversity, environmental science, aquaculture and livelihood development. Dr. Prosenjit Pramanick, is presently holding the position of Post Doctoral Research fellow, Department of Oceanography, Techno India University, West Bengal. He had passed M.Sc. in Biochemistry (in 2012) from Vidyasagar University, West Bengal and then obtained his Ph.D. degree in 2017 from Techno India University, West Bengal. He has to his credit about 97 scientific publications, 12 book chapters and 6 publications in conference proceedings in the sphere of Food technology, Aquaculture, Agribiotechnology, Alternative livelihood, Environmental Science.
Chapter
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Nature is sometimes taken for granted and undervalued. But folks cannot flourish without the advantages and services our natural atmosphere provides. Nature could be a advanced, interconnected system. A healthy, properly functioning natural atmosphere is that the foundation of sustained economic process, thriving communities and private well-being The Himalayan region, blessed with abundant natural resources in the form of land, water, forest and biodiversity, is increasingly threatened by environmental degradation. This region has a wide range of soils because of diverse parent material, processes of weathering, climate and biological activity. The formation of various types of soils and the resultant diversity indicates the different challenges as well as the untapped potential of the hill areas. The biodiversity-rich sacred sites are of great ecological significance and also play an important role in the conservation of flora and fauna. Besides, several rare, threatened, and medicinal plant species are found only in sacred sites, which are, perhaps the last refuge for these important species.
Chapter
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Wetlands are the most productive ecosystems on earth’s surface. Ramsar Convention puts forward binding regulations to protect wetlands across the globe. The real situation however, is different and complex. These fragile ecosystems are under imminent threat from natural and anthropogenic stress factors. Son Beel Wetlands of Assam in North East India is also no different. The health of this wetland is steadily deteriorating as a result of a series of internal as well as external factors. Valuation of the wetland is important to understand the need for conservation and sustainable development. The beneficial future prospects of the wetland are further discussed in this chapter which can be facilitated with the help of cutting-edge technologies such as nanotechnology.
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