GEF Project Fosters Integrated Coastal Management and Mangrove Conservation in India

21 April 2011: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has launched a community-based natural resource management and mangrove conservation project in the Godavari River Estuary, India.

The project is part of a US$24 million project that includes a GEF grant of US$6 million and focuses on mainstreaming coastal and marine biodiversity into several production sectors such as fishing, ports and shipping, aquaculture, agriculture, salt pans and tourism. The project works in 44 villages located in the East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem and thus supporting biodiversity conservation in the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, an IUCN category IV protected area with high biodiversity value. The Sanctuary is 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.

As noted by Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF, these habitats also "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."

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 project is implemented by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of India. [GEF Press Release]