New Delhi: In a bid to protect mangroves and local livelihoods in India, Apple on Friday announced a new initiative in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. The tech giant awarded a grant to the Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF) to work with the local community to protect a 2,400 hectare mangrove forest in the region, which provides an important buffer against the most dangerous impacts of climate change. Through the partnership, AERF will enter into conservation agreements with local community members, offering support in exchange for conserving and protecting the mangroves on their land, said the company. "Our new partnership in India continues this momentum, helping a community benefit economically from the restoration of the mangrove forests that protect against the worst impacts of climate change," said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives. The goal of the partnership is to help transition the local economy to one that relies on keeping mangroves intact and healthy. AERF will also engage Conservation International to verify the climate benefits of the mangroves, accounting for the carbon sequestered in both the trees and soil. In addition to protecting coastal communities from climate impacts like the unpredictable monsoons and rising tides that threaten the Raigad district, mangroves act as carbon sinks that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their soil, plants, and other sediment. "Though mangrove conservation issues are diverse and different in each place, here in our project area, opportunities are also many," said Dr Archana Godbole, director of AERF. "Training our young enthusiastic team as well as local communities for blue carbon will surely help us travel a long way to achieve mangrove conservation in this vibrant coastal area along the Arabian Sea," Godbole added.