ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Role of Exotic Vegetation in Coastal Protection

An Investigation into the Ecosystem Services of Casuarina in Odisha

Casuarina (casuarina equisetifolia L) trees of Australian origin have been planted along Indian coasts as bioshields for protection from cyclones, tsunamis, tidal water damage, and the like. This paper reviews the ecosystem services provided by casuarina in Australia and finds no mention that coastal protection has been the primary role of this species. The data from the "super cyclone" of October 1999 that devastated 12 districts of Odisha is compared with the storm protection afforded by other native species such as mangroves and mixed cashew nut forests found along the coast. It is seen that while native vegetation provided storm protection and saved human lives, casuarina did not have such an impact. The findings question the policy of planting casuarina as storm buffers in all cyclone-prone areas irrespective of the topography.

The data analysed in this paper was collected for the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE)-sponsored project “Evaluation of Storm Protection Services of Mangroves: Analysis of Super Cyclone of October 1999”. The authors thank SANDEE and Kartik Shanker for many of his valuable suggestions and ideas. For collection of human casualty fi gures, they acknowledge the help of Rabinarayan Dash and Rajlakshmi Dash in Puri district and Jatindra Dash in Kendrapara district. They also thank Akalabya Das for GIS data and an anonymous referee for the suggestions received.

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