STEPS Working Paper 99
In the last few decades, mangroves have attained significant environmental, climatic and therefore economic importance. As environmental assets, they have given rise to different regimes of conservation, valuation and marketisation in various parts of the world. These processes are associated with new relations of power, dispossession and contestation. This paper unpacks these relationships in the context of state and market led conservation programmes in Kutch (India), a district which has been at the forefront of accelerated industrialisation in Gujarat. By analysing the discourses and practices that have shaped the social life of mangroves in Kutch, we argue that the interaction of industrialisation processes with conservation measures has not only led to privatisation of mangrove lands but has also fundamentally altered the livelihoods as well as well-being and identities of mangrove dependent communities such as fishers and pastoralists. Largely these trends have intensified the processes of uneven capitalist growth, dispossession and inequality, but have also opened up some opportunities and spaces for promoting transformational change.