Community stewardship in conservation, restoration and sustainable management of mangroves in Orissa coast

 
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Eco-club students participate in the mangroves awareness cam ... , Rajnagar, Kendrapara, Orissa © APOWA, 2012

Objectives

The objective of the project is to strengthen and sustain community stewardship in conservation, restoration, sustainable management of mangroves based on scientific principles, taking into account the vulnerability of the region to natural disasters, sustainable livelihood security for local communities and conservation of ecologically significant natural resources

Background

The biodiversity rich Bhitarkanika mangroves of Orissa (a Ramsar site) are of immense value, providing ecological, livelihood and food security. Sustainable management and conservation of these vital and life sustaining natural resources involving local communities and other stakeholders are essential. These mangrove forests are fragile due to high deforestation and alteration of mangrove forest patches. Mangroves in many areas adjacent to Bhitarkanika have been clear felled, thus these areas are now devoid of mangroves. 

The objective of the project is to strengthen and sustain community stewardship in conservation, restoration, sustainable management of mangroves based on scientific principles, taking into account the vulnerability of the region to natural disasters, sustainable livelihood security for local communities and conservation of ecologically significant natural resources

The focus of the project is to empower local communities in sustainably managing and conserving the mangrove resources in partnership with other stakeholders, making all accountable for the results of this stewardship. Village level institutions like Village Mangrove Councils (VMC) will be formed and strengthened for sustainable management and conservation of mangrove resources. The interventions are intended to result in reduction in mangrove over-use and creation of new mangrove forest, to minimize the dependency of people on mangrove forests, and to improve the skills for alternative livelihoods. Restoration of mangroves will protect of the hinterland from periodic cyclones, super cyclones and tsunami, etc., which is very common in this region. In addition, it will help in increased fish, crab population and other biodiversity as well as check soil erosion. 

Target beneficiaries

  1. Direct beneficiaries Mangrove communities from ten project villages in the Rajnagar block of the Kendrapara district. 
  2. Indirect beneficiaries Forest department officials (including those from Bhitarkanika national park)

Outputs

The focus of the project is to empower local communities in sustainably managing and conserving the mangrove resources in partnership with other stakeholders, making all accountable for the results of this stewardship. Village level institutions like Village Mangrove Councils (VMC) will be formed and strengthened for sustainable management and conservation of mangrove resources. The interventions are intended to result in reduction in mangrove over-use and creation of new mangrove forest, to minimize the dependency of people on mangrove forests, and to improve the skills for alternative livelihoods. Restoration of mangroves will protect of the hinterland from periodic cyclones, super cyclones and tsunami, etc., which is very common in this region. In addition, it will help in increased fish, crab population and other biodiversity as well as check soil erosion

Accomplishments and challenges

  • Twelve hectares of mangroves were restored
  • Village Mangrove Councils (VMCs) were formed in all ten project villages to manage the sustainable use of the forests and to ensure the longterm cosnervation of the mangroves.
  • 48,000 mangrove saplings were grown in the nursery established under this project; 36,000 saplings were distributed to the VMCs and 12,000 saplings to the community for plantation
  • Training in alternative and supplementary livelihoods was imparted to 981 men and women in the ten villages with the objective of reducing pressure on the mangroves.
  • Ten mangrove conservation related awareness programmes were conducted for 1,035 community and VMC members. An awareness camp (including forest tours for eco-club students) were conducted for 1,178 students and teachers from eight school.
  • It was observed that illeagal felling of the mangrove greatly diminished in the course of the project. As a result of controlled grazing of domestic ungulates, the land was allowed to recover providing for the abundant growth of alternative fodder sources (for livestock) like Proteresia coarctata (wild rice which forms an important constituent in the plant succession leading to formation of mangrove communities along the estuaries in India) and Avicennia twigs. 

Contributions to cross-cutting themes

As the result of the abundant growth of weeds and other mangrove associates that are now being used as a source of fuel, women in the vilalges are no longer compelled to enter into the forest to collect resources for fuel; they thus have more time on their hands. An upside of this is that the introduction of vegetable cultivation as a supplmentary livelihood (as part of this SGP) has been actively taken up by women. Several women have banded together to form their own enterprise and are now selling vegetables in the local markets - helping to ease the financial burdens on their families and empowering them to take up positions in local governing institutions and on the Village Mangrove Councils. 

As a reuslt of this project several education and awareness related board signs, banners, posters and brochures have been developed in English, Hindi and Odhisha. These have been placed at entery points into the Bhitarkanika mangrove forest, in the project villages and to the communities and forest officials in the region. 

Lessons Learned

  • The need for sustained sensitization of communities on mangroves and how it affects their livelihoods been the most critical learning from this intervention. This is only effective if institutional set-ups at the village level, like village mangrove councils, are strengthened to assume responsibility of the ecosystem, ensure it’s sustainable use and maintain transparency and equity. This also promotes a sense of pride and livelihood security.
  • The increased participation of women in the project activities was a real mark of success, particularly in a culture and society where women are often seen at the forefront of decision-making activities and management. The introduction of livelihoods for the women increased their family’s financial capacity and imparted a sense of equity that prompted them to become part of the VMCs and various other local set-ups.
  • It was also observed that, the closer cooperation and information & knowledge sharing between one VMC to other VMC on mangrove restoration and conservation is encouraging. Each VMC has been playing a significant role as facilitator for communication and liaison between villagers and project team for mangrove restoration and conservation. The collective action of communities building a solidarity effort and strengthens a sense of stewardship which is important for the sustainability of the community work for the mangrove resource management and conservation.
  • Engaging and encouraging the local media personnel is very important as an advocacy strategy and highlight critical mangrove issues. With this in mind, the media was invited and encouraged to publish articles on the importance of mangroves, project activities and successes. (Please refer to Annex 3 for the press clippings)
  • Working in cooperation and association with a variety of stakeholders including local forest department, women groups, youth clubs, NGOs, fishermen community associations, and local panchayat that have diversity of ideas, united of voices, knowledge, and experience also provides many benefits, as the stakeholders bring their own strengths in one platform.

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Project Facts

Country

Location

Rajnagar, Kendrapara district (Bhitarkanika mangrove forest) Orissa, India

Topic

Duration

20th Jan 2012 to 31st Dec 2012

MFF Grant Amount

INR 814,340

Co-financing Partner

APOWA & local communities - INR 170,100

Implementing Partner

Mr. Bijaya Kumar Kabi
Director 
Action for the Protection of Wild Animals (APOWA)
bijayakabi@apowa.org

“We found it easier to make a living (growing vegetables) from our small piece on land than (entering into and)exploiting the mangrove forest. We have set example for others.” Parvati Pradhan, a 43-year-old woman, and her husband are supporting a thirteen member large family. They now grow vegetables and fruits like papayas, drumsticks, brinjals, tomatoes, okra and leafy vegetables in their own backyard where the land is fertile as a result of the healthy growth of the nearby mangrove forest. They grow enough to sustain the whole family and even sell the surplus to ease their financial burdens. 

“We are happy to be engaged in the mangrove plantation, and protection work. It’s great and we are able to motivate other people in our village to participate with this project, which will not only protect our futures, but will also give livelihood support to our family”, says Mrs. Lili Priyadarshani Rout, president, Maa Mangala SHG, and member, Sidha Marichani VMC (Basantpur village)

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Community Stewardship in Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Management of Mangroves in Orissa

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Community Stewardship in Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Management of Mangroves in Odisha Coast

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