Celebrating the International Mangrove Day 2016

26 Jul, 2016

The Mangrove Cell has been instrumental in undertaking the activities with respect to conservation of mangroves. It has also undertaken key activities in the area of coastal and marine protected areas in collaboration with GIZ under the “Sustainable Management of Coastal and Marine Protected Areas (CMPA)” Project.

To further its efforts, towards achieving the core objectives of coastal ecosystem protection and management, the Mangrove Cell with support from GIZ, has created a dedicated institution, the Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation of Maharashtra or the “Mangrove Foundation”, which will focus on participatory conservation of this unique ecosystem, policy development and research and education. The role of the Foundation would be complementary to that of the Mangrove Cell in conserving coastal ecosystems of Maharashtra.

On the occasion of International Mangrove Day, Mangrove Cell organised a seminar and a brainstorming session on activities that can be undertaken by the Mangrove Foundation for ensuring a sustainable approach towards conservation of the coastal and marine ecosystem of Maharashtra. The seminar was attended by associated experts, NGOs, project partners and the frontline staff of the Forest Department.

Mr. N Vasudevan giving the Inaugural Address

The seminar began with an inaugural address by the Nodal Officer of the Project, Mr. N Vasudevan. He welcomed all the participants to the workshop, explained the objectives of the Foundation and invited experts, and associates to share their expectations from the workshop. This was followed by presentation on the interventions from the projects undertaken by the Mangrove Cell.

Project Associate from Ratnagiri, Mr. Mohan Upadhye presented the 'Turtle Conservation and Biodiversity Management' interventions carried out under the CMPA Project. In several following discussions, Advisor from GIZ, Ms. Supriya Jhunjhunwala, Programme Officer of CMPA Project, Mr. Bhaskar Paul and Project Associate, Mr. Abhinay Kelaskar presented the perspectives of community based conservation and how it can be integrated with the overall mandate of the Mangrove Foundation. Grassroots Research and Consultancy Pvt. Ltd. presented the master plan for development of the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Interpretation Centre at Airoli.

Presentation being made by Mr. Mohan Upadhye

The brainstorming session saw lively discussion from the participants on a range of issues that could be addressed through the Foundation.

Following were the key points of discussion from the session:

Many of the speakers acknowledged the opportunity for the Interpretation Centre being set-up under the GIZ-CMPA Project, in educating the common man about the threats to our ecosystem and the implications of climate change on the biodiversity and livelihoods along the coast.

Ms. Jhunhjunwala spoke about the potential of the Foundation to act as a hub for capacity building and as a centre of excellence on aspects of coastal and marine biodiversity. She also emphasised on the issue of pollution in the Thane Creek and suggested efforts that can be taken up by the Foundation on driving a concerted effort for a long-term strategy on addressing the issue.

Divisional Forest officer, Chiplun, Mr. Jagtap highlighted the lack of awareness for conservation of mangrove habitats. He proposed that the Foundation could support establishment of information centres along the coastal stretch and strengthen participatory conservation by capacity building of Biodiversity Management Committees. Divisional Forest Officer from Mangrove Cell, Mr. Sanjay Mali also stressed on the need for capacity building for government officials on the variety of rules and regulations that govern the coastal and marine protected areas.

Citing the example of Navi Mumbai airport, Mr. Stalin from Vanashakti stressed on the importance of conserving areas that are important habitats for migratory birds and other organisms that depend on the ecosystem for their survival. This was further emphasised by Mr. Goenka from Conservation Action Trust and Mr. Punshi from Navi Mumbai Environment Preservation Society. Mr. Stalin further added that project interventions should ensure participation of the local fishermen community.

Discussion with participants on the scope of the Mangrove Foundation

Mr. Sarang Kulkarni from the Indian Institute of Scuba Diving and Aqua Sports brought attention to the capacity building initiative for conservation of marine mammals and the need for extending it through the Foundation. Dr. Deshmukh and Mr. Goenka pronounced the need for creating awareness on the role and importance of the mangrove and coastal ecosystems in both rural and urban areas. Mr. Goenka further emphasized on the need for conservation based strategy when planning for ecotourism activities in the areas. He also mentioned taking up demarcation of mangrove areas and taking support from the Foundation for monitoring of mangrove cover through satellite imagery and remote sensing.

Dr. Chauhan from Shivaji University spoke about the importance of species-habitat conservation approach and exploring biodiversity at the micro level with the by involving the local community. She also expressed concern over the dwindling sea-grass habitats and suggested the need for immediate restoration efforts. Concerned over the recent issue of stranding of marine mammals along the coast of Maharashtra, it was proposed to take up long-term research and monitoring programs and establishment of rescue centres with necropsy kits along the coast of Maharashtra.

The seminar was concluded with a note of thanks by the Divisional Forest Officer, Mangrove Cell. He thanked all the participants and acknowledged support from the GIZ-CMPA Project for setting up the Mangrove Foundation.

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