A cause for the mangroves


By Express News Service

#MakeArtforMumbaisMangroves, a campaign by Biodiversity by the Bay, launched a virtual gallery on World Environment Day (June 05) to showcase diverse artworks that the movement has received from young creatives in support of Mumbai’s unique green ecosystems.

In the works, is a zine by 50 artists that will be presented to the Environment Ministry of Mumbai. Harita – The Green Footprint Fellowship Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic (MMM) and Project Mumbai are also a part of the initiative. Arpita Bhagat, Campaign Lead, MMM and Suma Balaram Creative Lead MMM, give us more details:

Artworks by Koshy Brahmatra

Could you talk about your own relation to the mangroves? 
Arpita: I first discovered mangroves at 11 on my first visit to Mumbai. Over the years, as the city became second home, my relationship with the mangroves grew. As a student of environment studies, my curiosity was shaped by the biology of mangrove ecosystems. In my early 20s, I learned about the Forest department’s Mangrove cell and supported citizens to take action against illegal encroachments. Now, as a permanent resident of Navi Mumbai, living across the mangroves and wetlands, my investment into protecting these precious ecosystems and the fauna it supports has magnified. 

What led you to launch this campaign? 
Suma: Our Biodiversity by the Bay campaign aims to inspire young Indians to use their creativity and collective power to fight for Mumbai’s biodiversity. Mumbai’s Ministry of Magic was created as a platform to showcase their collective action and mobilise them to demand the local government representations to act more intentionally towards protecting Mumbai’s parks, its biodiversity hotspots, and the habitats of endangered species.

In April, MMM launched an open call to create content on protecting Mumbai’s mangroves and the communities it supports. Instagram was the primary channel, and the open call lasted for two months, and all the content shared by the artists lives under the hashtag #MakeArtForMumbaisMangroves. We received over 100 entries from 92 artists! 

Tell us about the artworks.
Suma: The artworks highlight the important role mangroves play in maintaining the city’s ecological balance. While artists Nitasha Nambiar and Mrinmayi Dalvi focussed on mangroves acting as natural buffers against coastal erosion and flooding, others like Tanya Timble and Khyati Patkar painted them as the thriving home to countless flora and fauna species. Artists Gary Curzai and Niyosha Bhagat vividly captured the aspect of sustaining livelihoods of Mumbai’s Koli communities who depend on the mangroves for their survival. Illustrators such as Harmeet Rahal and Sid G dramatically displayed the need for better urban planning to tackle the inevitable rise in sea levels. 

Why are mangroves important to Mumbai and other parts of India?
Arpita: As per our research, Mumbai’s floodplains: its wetlands, mangroves and salt pans are essential to the city’s resilience to frequent floods. Studies have demonstrated that 50 per cent of the city is under threat of regular flooding by 2050. With the inevitable rise in sea levels, Mumbai’s mangroves are more important now than ever. They act as natural buffers against coastal erosion and flooding, and store up to four times as much carbon as other forests. Moreover, the green cover is critical to mitigate the growing air pollution and carbon emissions, rapidly growing due to vehicular and industrial activity.

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