The state mangrove cell has shelved plans of aerial seeding after it did not receive permission in time from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). “Mangroves can be planted only during the monsoon. However, we did not receive permission in time for it. We will now attempt it next year,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forests, mangrove cell.
The cell had applied for permission for aerial seeding in inaccessible areas from the DGCA in July this year. In what would have been the first-of-its-kind project in India, the cell intended to carry out a pilot project by planting 20 tonnes of Avicennia marina and Avicennia officinalis in large mangrove patches by dropping seeds from a helicopter. “It has a better success rate than terrestrial aerial seeding where the seeds tend to fall on rocky areas or dry land. The mangrove seeds tend to disburse quickly and as they fall on marshy land, remain there and germinate. This way a larger area can be covered,” said Vasudevan.
Officials said aerial seeding would also be more cost-effective. While the current labour-intensive method of planting mangrove seeds costs around Rs 200 lakh for 100 hectares, planting them from the air would cost around Rs 10 lakh for 100 hectares. The city has 5,800 hectares of mangrove cover. Of this, 4,000 hectares are government land and the remaining 1,800 hectares private. These mangroves play an important role in preventing floods in the city as their extensive root system act as sponges and absorb excess water.