In recent times, environmental stewardship of mangroves has provided the impetus to
protect and restore these ecosystems for their inherent ability to protect coastal regions from climate
change, sequester carbon dioxide as rich blue carbon, and support human well-being through a
multitude of ecosystem services. Participatory stakeholder assessment, as a part of the present
study, integrated local stakeholder perspectives in assessing drivers of mangrove loss in Bhitarkanika
and Mahanadi delta, Odisha, providing empirical evidence through a mixed-method approach.
The use of a Likert scale provided the methodology to develop a single composite variable
as the best measure of central tendency. In total, 27.5% of the respondents were locals and were
living close to the study area for generations, whereas the other 72.5% represented researchers, academics,
and forest department officials. Stakeholder responses at the ground level indicated that
Bhitarkanika and Mahanadi delta were facing increased frequency of extreme climatic events followed,
by aquaculture and other land-use changes, which can be considered potential drivers causing
mangrove loss. Co-development of future scenarios by integrating concerns of all the stakeholders
emerged as a potential solution to effectively address the trade-offs arising from local anthropogenic
interferences, as well as large-scale developmental activities. This study highlights the need
for convergence of multi-disciplinary knowledge from diverse stakeholder groups, including traditional
and indigenous knowledge, for the purpose of developing accurate plausible alternative scenarios.
Interactive governance and incentivization approaches, along with alternative livelihood
opportunities, are proposed as the means to improve conservation and restoration in the region
based on the present study. Understanding of the coupled socio-ecological system and its relevance
is found to be critical to improve bi-directional linkages of ecosystem health and human well-being.