Mangrove Afforestation, Reforestation and Restoration in Sunderbans with Community approach for reducing GHG emissions

AFFORESTATION, REFORESTATION and RESTORATION (ARR) of mangroves in the Sunderbans is the prime need of the hour.

A livelihood is a unique investment fund whose objective is to restore carbon credits with high societal value to its partner investors. Livelihood raises funds from its investors and reinvests them into large-scale projects to generate long-term viability. The Fund seeks to find the best balance between the financial value of these credits and the value created for local communities.

The mechanism can be summed up as follows: through the carbon economy, the fund contributes to ecosystem restoration and development of the local economy and thus to the fight against poverty in countries where it invests. Hundreds of thousands of families can contribute to the restoration of their ecosystem while improving their income.
Village community, in absence of mangrove belts, is totally vulnerable to tidal surges. Besides the mangroves act as breeding nursery of shell and fishes, mollusks, 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 .

Funded By: Initiated with Danone Fund for Nature, Paris and later on taken up by LIVELIHOODS
Project Duration: 2010 – till date

(1)To regenerate the degraded biodiversity resources of the wetland ecosystem in the Sunderbans for acting as a biological defense against the natural calamities and protecting the age-old earthen embankments.

(2)To ensure continued existence of the community in this vulnerable ecosystem through increased access to wetland resources and reduced exposure of local populace to the hazards of tidal surges.

(3)To involve the village women folk in the plantation programme for enhancing their financial status as well as social security.

(4)To reduce carbon footprints and get carbon credits in the process of restoration of green belts.

(5)To create a community participative model and develop a sense of ownership in the community for the mangrove, the lifeline of Sundarban.

The project started in 2010 and initially seven village sites were identified comprising 1050 Ha of mudflat area to be planted with a minimum of 5000 plants per hectare. The entire rite for land use permissions were obtained from the respective Panchayats and project boundary were delineated with the help of GIS system. Mixed species mangrove plantation used to start at the end of June and continue till September each year. The process also included identification of beneficiaries, community sensitization, seed procurement, nursery preparation, and seedling as well as sapling plantations. Community women from entire pockets of those villages were enthusiastically took part in the process of plantation with proper technical and field support from NEWS staff.

After five years of guarding system by villagers living adjacent to mudflats, NEWS focus was to revitalize the mangrove protection system by providing livelihood opportunities and food security through local natural resources management and hand holding of a group of people from the community (Mangrove Stewards), who will take charge of protection as leaders.

After five years of mixed species mangrove plantation on the mudflats of 184 villages under 59 Gram Panchayats from 14 Blocks of Sundarban,

(1) NEWS succeeded to plant and restore 4403 Hectares of area through active involvement of the community and direct participation of over 18000 women folks with proper technical and field support from the staff of NEWS.

(2) 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.

(3) Increased understanding for utilization of carbon markets to the best ability of preservation and restoration of biodiversity resources.

(4) Hand holding on agriculture, pisciculture and livestock rearing of 500 Stewards from entire pockets of project area.

(5)Mangrove Surveillance, a regular six months cycle to monitor existing plantation and sensitize Stewards to work as a team in order to improve their livelihood options and to protect mangrove.