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GEF Support for Conserving Mangroves in India

PRESS RELEASE

Global Environment Facility (GEF) Biodiversity project of $24 million launched to protect coastal ecosystems in Andhra Pradesh, India

 

Washington DC, April 21, 2011 - This community based natural resource management and mangrove conservation project in the Godavari River Estuary of Andhra Pradesh State is the latest offspring of the India GEF Coastal and Marine Program (IGCMP), implemented by the Government of India and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The $24 million project includes a GEF grant of $6 million and has a main focus on mainstreaming coastal and marine biodiversity into several production sectors such as fishing, ports and shipping, aquaculture, agriculture, salt pans and tourism. These sectors all have enormous economic significance in India, contributing to 10 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The project works directly in 44 villages located in the East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem and thus is directly helping biodiversity conservation in the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, a International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) category IV protected area with high biodiversity value – in fact the second largest mangrove area in the country with a high diversity of mangrove species including threatened flora and fauna. The area supports a wide range of other faunal elements that include amphibian, reptile, bird, and mammal species, including terrestrial species that depend on coastal ecosystems. Animals such as otter, fishing cat, jackal and sea turtle are found in the creeks. Birds such as snipes, ducks, sea gulls and flamingos are common. The area is an Important Bird Area (IBA) with a recorded population of 119 bird species, of which 50 are migratory from Eastern Europe, Central and North Asia.

These habitats and ecosystems along the Indian coastline of Andhra Pradesh are of utmost environmental importance for a whole range of reasons: They store and cycle nutrients, filter pollutants, protect shorelines from erosion and storms, play a vital role in regulating hydrological functions and modulating climate as they are a major carbon sink and oxygen source, and, in addition, sustain livelihoods of coastal communities. With this new project we contribute to the conservation of their complex functions,” said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF.

To promote conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, India has an extensive body of laws and policies, e.g. the Biological Diversity Act of 2002, National Forest Policy of 1988, Environmental (Protection) Act of 1986, Marine Fishing Policy of 2004, and the Joint Forest Management orders and rules promulgated by both the Government of India and the States. In spite of the legal, policy and institutional framework, mangrove and coastal ecosystems of Andhra Pradesh are under increasing threat.

The Godavari Delta, like many other deltaic systems in India, has been highly altered by human activity.  “The ecological integrity of east Godavari river estuary is under increasing pressure on account of the fast emergence of production activities in the region. We hope that this project will give us a window of opportunity for engaging with economic sectors for mainstreaming environmental considerations into their production practices and operations,” said Mr. Hitesh Malhotra, The Chief Wildlife Warden of Andhra Pradesh.

And Mr.A.K.Sinha, Conservator of Forests in charge of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary added: “Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the last remaining bastions of mangroves along the Indian east coast. It is a priceless asset. This project shall go a long way in invigorating the conservation initiatives in the area.”

To restore and maintain the ecological integrity of Andhra Pradesh’s coastal and marine ecosystems will require a significant change in the governance approach that is currently being pursued with regard to production activities in the wider land/seascape surrounding ecologically sensitive areas. The GEF project aims to demonstrate this in the East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem (including the entire mangrove belt and production landscapes outside the mangrove area in the estuary and the coastal zone), by promoting multi-sectoral assessment, planning and management of activities for biodiversity and ecosystem services at the landscape level, in turn benefiting the local population and production sectors over the long run. The aim is to mainstream the maintenance of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services as an integral consideration in production activities by focusing on minimizing adverse impacts and capitalizing on win-win opportunities.
 

Media contact: Christian Hofer, Senior Communications Officer, GEF, chofer@thegef.org, +1 202 413 4185

 

About the Global Environment Facility
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 182 member governments — in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector — to address global environmental issues. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. These projects benefit the global environment, linking local, national, and global environmental challenges and promoting sustainable livelihoods.

Established in 1991, the GEF is today the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. The GEF has allocated $9.2 billion, supplemented by more than $40 billion in cofinancing, for more than 2,700 projects in more than 165 developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 12,000 small grants directly to nongovernmental and community organizations, totaling $495 million.
For more information: www.thegef.org