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Mangroves go digital

THE ASIAN AGE. | AARTI BHANUSHALI
Published : Jul 18, 2017, 12:08 am IST
Updated : Jul 18, 2017, 12:08 am IST

A mobile application is all set to give environment enthusiasts information about mangroves at the tap of a button.

There are over 24 different species of mangroves in Maharashtra that the app documents. And 16 of these species are found in Vikhroli itself.
 There are over 24 different species of mangroves in Maharashtra that the app documents. And 16 of these species are found in Vikhroli itself.

The movement to safeguard and spread awareness about mangroves in the state has now gone digital. With environmentalists repeatedly fighting for the protection of mangroves in the city, Asia’s first mobile app dedicated solely to the mangrove ecosystem of Maharashtra that was launched recently gave the drive a much-needed push.  Conceived and developed by Godrej & Boyce, the mangrove app has been created with the intent to raise awareness about the diversity and importance of mangroves among teachers, students, researchers and government agencies. The app serves as a pictorial field guide, helping users to easily identify various mangrove, leaf and flower species, and learn about the mangroves ecosystem.

The team has been focussing on the conservation, awareness, and education of mangroves since decades now and this is a fresh step towards the goal of safeguarding them shares Tejashree Joshi, DGM and Head, Environmental Engineering Services and Mangroves at Godrej. “We have been engaging in nature trails with students, teachers, and researchers on site and we realised that digitising it would be of added advantage,” she says.

There are over 24 different species of mangroves in Maharashtra that the app documents. And 16 of these species are found in Vikhroli itself. “There is not much research done on the mangroves on the coastal belt because it is a difficult eco-system to deal with. We had to rope in experts to validate the information we had collected and the process took us over eight months,” she says.

In Mumbai, we find these mangroves on the coastal belts of Thane and Malad, with a healthy patch of greenery in Vikhroli. “It’s sad that people are cutting mangroves and treating them as a dumping ground. The coastal lines offer a lucrative business opportunity and the mangroves are often treated as waste disposal sites, that shouldn’t be the case.”

Possessing a severe threat, there isn’t much research done on the mangroves because it is an arduous eco-system to study, “We had to rope in experts to validate the information we had collected. Clicking pictures closely is also a challenge because mangroves are marshy swamps of land and it is difficult to access them.”

The app is a picture heavy guide and will help students, researchers and environmental enthusiasts alike, “They are a thriving hub for a variety of species of flora and fauna. The app is also useful to the researchers in a way that it can get difficult to identify species and carrying huge books becomes cumbersome, you have to balance yourself in those marshy swamps of mush.”

The team now plans to have the app in different languages for easy access. “We are planning to scale up the app and have it in different languages. We are also looking to develop it across all the coastlines in India. We are open to suggestions and might even consider sourcing information from the public if it suits us as validation of species from experts is also important,” Tejashree concludes.

Tags: mangroves, mobile app, ecosystem