AFFORESTATION and REFORESTATION (A/R) of mangroves in Sunderbans is a prime need of the hour.
DANONE, a world leader in the production and marketing of fresh dairy products, waters and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as products in the fields of clinical nutrition and infant nutrition, as part of its sustainable development policy, has pledged to develop a project aimed at capturing greenhouse gas through the restoration of mangroves in 6000 ha over a period of three years in Sunderbans, India, in line with the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and according to Voluntary Carbon Standards (VCS) .
The project is committed to engaging people who are mainly dependent on threatened ecosystems in alternative and sustainable lifestyles, and to enhancing their participation in the conservation process.
Experts from World Conservation Union (IUCN), World Bank, consultants from Indian Institute of Space Research Organisation, Ahmedabad with counterparts from Bengal like Botanical Survey of India (BSI), Institute of Environmental Science and Wetland management (IESWM) are acting directly as consultants. Besides officials from Office of the District Magistrate’s Office , Deptt of Forests , Govt of West Bengal , Environment Department , Sunderban Development Board , Fisheries Department also give us valuable guidance in various critical issues. Starting from due diligence report prepared by IUCN experts on the site selection, selection of species, monitoring - every step is verified with good science.
The unique features of the project is the community initiative , where the community of the adjacent villages are directly involved in collecting seedlings ,raising saplings in nurseries, making jute bags to be used in nurseries (instead of the usual practice of polybags), planting , protecting and monitoring over a long period of time. Panchayat members, Panchayat pradhans, Sabhadhipati’s along with the Member of Land and Forest protection Committees have agreed in writing to the model proposed and local Block Development Officer informed of it. The Sabhadhipati, Zilla Parishad has extended all co-operation in the matter.
The model also works with utilizing the carbon economy to the best interest of preservation of ecosystem thereby increasing more livelihood opportunity for the community and also to build resilience against climate change. It may also be noted that sustainance of the planted mangroves has always been an issue in Sunderbans which mostly tend to degrade even after exhaustive plantation programme in the past. The issuance of Certified Emmission Reductions(CER) or Voluntary Emmission Reductions(VER) by UNFCCC and validated by the Designated National Authority in India gives the mandate to keep the carbon stock growing for over twenty years . Hence In this case an over-all monitoring programme is taken to keep the carbon stock well maintained over twenty years of time and we are hopeful that this criticality of the project is the key to sustenance of the afforestation/reforestation programme.
The small-scale CDM A/R project is part of 5 separate community initiatives aiming to provide a newfinancing mechanism to overcome the current barriers to contribute positively to wetland restoration through mangrove afforestation in a multi-species environment and to allow communities to benefitfrom the CDM. A key ecosystem restoration objective of the project is to re-establish the ecosystemfunctions relating to wave and wind erosion control to protect embankments, and to re-establishfunctioning ecosystems that can also enhance biodiversity. The socio-economic rationale for the project
is to provide an economic stimulus in a depressed area, and to protect important livelihood functions for local communities. The A/R activity will provide greenhouse gas mitigation benefits and also important adaptation benefits in addressing climate change impacts. Such impacts include ongoing sea level rise and a probable increase in storm intensity.
Thus,there are three aspects to the project implementation.
WETLAND ASPECTS :
Revive the biodiversity of the wetland ecosystem and implement wise and sustainable practices of the ecosystem resources and services.
Provide biological defence against storms, cyclones, tidal surges, regenerate the degraded biodiversity resources & protect the age-old earthen embankments which is the lifeline for the people of Sunderbans.
PROJECTED OUTCOME :
Increased biodiversity resources and resilience against storms/cyclones.
Village community, in absence of mangrove belts, are totally vulnerable to tidal surges. Besides the mangroves act as breeding nursery of shell and finfishes, molluscs, crustaceans , as a bio-shield against storms ,cyclones , against soil erosion , as a potential natural way to adapt to sea level rise owing to accretion of land trapped in the lateral branching system in a prograding delta , recreational value and immense economic value by providing services through fishing, tourism, medicine etc .
COMMUNITY ASPECTS :
Ensure the continued existence of the community in this vulnerable ecosystem.
Increased access to wetland resources & reduced exposure of local populace to the hazards of tidal surges.
PROJECTED OUTCOMES :
Empowered villagers especially women that results in gross community happiness and social commitments of the community.
The involvement of the community especially women in the process of mangrove rebuilding from nursery building to raising, planting and maintaining, as if owned by them, was hitherto not emphasized and practiced. (NEWS had practiced in small scale last year in some villages and was very successful). It was and remained the duty of protection and conservation managers only. Training of the women groups imparting the knowledge and practice of preparation of mangrove saplings in nursery and their role in a socially valuable programme of rebuilding ‘green’, also empowers them.
Involvement and participation of villagers especially women is a major target of the plantation programme , which not only financially helps them but also inculcates a sense of pride and security among them to be able to take part in a socially relevant question , as if owned by them.
CARBON RELATED ASPECTS :
Reduce carbon footprints.
Get carbon credits
PROJECTED OUTCOMES :
Increased understanding for utilization of carbon markets to the best ability of preservation and restoration of biodiversity resources.
METHODS AND TECHNOLOGIES
The due diligence review of Potential Wet Carbon Project in India was done by H.J. RUITENBEEK RESOURCE CONSULTING LIMITED , France and Canada represented by H Jack RUITENBEEK , who has been working with the Govt of West Bengal on CRZ management issues in World Bank projects in Sunderbans for last four years, in consultation with the Chief Economist, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) , Gland and with the scientific experts in mangroves and hydrology of Sunderbans from West Bengal . It produced a management summary that contained information relating to methodology, general findings,technical project design and implementation, and long-term risk mitigation. The scope of the assessment encompasses wetland impacts, community benefits and impact, and potential for developing a carbon asset that in due course may be registered via the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) or Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS). The due diligence review commenced on 19 April 2010 and was substantially completed by 14 May 2010. At various phases , advisors include Senior Scientists from Botanical Survey of India and Institute of Environmental Studies and Wetland Management .
Trainee scientists from Institute of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University contributed in initial plantation and elevation models using GPRS.
We regret the sad demise of Dr L K Banerjee who was an integral part of the project in due diligence review mission.
875 ha already completed with a target of 2125 ha for 2011-2012 campaign involving twelve villages . 576 women were directly involved in raising twelve lakhs of saplings in nurseries. And around fifty six lakhs of seedlings were planted to obtain the standard density of plants per hectare.
Third party audit for the first phase is also complete.
The target is
2010-2011 – 1000 ha ,
of which 875 ha completed.
2011-2012 – 2000 ha
2012-2013 – 3000 ha