Role of mangroves to combat sea erosion is well known. This is particularly important in light of Climate Change and sea level rise.
In 2007, ONGC decided to join hands with the Bombay Natural History Society, India’s premier NGO working for nature conservation for last 125 years, and decided to launch ‘Project Mangrove’. The project has two main components; mangrove plantation and mobile education unit.
Under Project mangrove supported by ONGC, BNHS has done massive afforestation at various locations in Gandhar covering 10 wells at GGS III and GGS VI. The results for the plantation have been fantastic. The survival rate at GGS III is appx 80% while at the same at GGS VI is 55%.
The plantation has been also a great opportunity to engage local population. During the three year work, project could manage to provide an employment to 150 locals. This has not only generated employment, but also goodwill among locals. This is important to the long term survival of the plantation.
CSR and mangrove afforestation
Gujarat has the longest coast line (appx1700 km) and large population resides near coastal areas. Number of industries has also come up close to local residential populations. Close proximity of the industries to the residential populations as well as ecologically vulnerable areas such as coasts and forests, have serious consequences. The recent oil spill of BP in Mexico Gulf is an excellent example of the same. Thus it is very important for the industries to have close working relations with locals not only for economic implications but also for ecological implications.
ONGC, being one of the largest industries operating in the area of Gulf of Khambhat, have taken concrete steps for the betterment of the local population, one of them being Project Mangrove in Gandhar region. The area is the major Oil field of ONGC in the western basin. Its proximity to high erosion prone Dhadhar River, pose great risk of submergence of oil wells thus not only threatening ecology but also affecting local populations. Thus shore stabilization is of prime importance to protect the coastal assets of ONGC. Gandhar, has 1470 ha. of mudflats under mangrove and another 3730 ha. of mudflats have potential to restore mangrove (Singh.H.S., 2000). Thus BNHS with support from ONGC has taken up mangrove afforestation programme in 2007.
Project Mangrove was initiated in year 2007 by ONGC& BNHS at Gujarat and Maharashtra. The longterm aim is to stabilize shore line close to ONGC assets through afforestation compounded with community awareness.
The erosion issue is very severe in this region. Thus conventional density of afforestation was given away with very high density afforestation programme. Thus instead of conventional 2500 plants per hect, we have increased plantation density to the tune of 12000 plants per hect. This has been achieved by supplementing plantation of trees along with mangrove propagules and seeds. Thus even with over 30% mortality, we could manage to develop excellent quality mangrove cover. The plantation requires few more years care and protection to perform effective function of checking erosion. It also needs to be further enhanced to the areas which are still vulnerable for erosion.
Through this initiative we have not only help develop coastal green belt, but also provided employment to over 150 local villagers of both gender in the region covering 5 villages namely Denva, Valipur, Mangrol, Gandhar and Kalak.
Community awareness on mangroves and coastal ecosystem has increased under this project as education unit was deeply involved moving from one coastal village to another in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat and spreading awareness among locals through presentations, meetings, poster display, rallies, involving villagers in to mangrove restoration work etc. There has been several awareness programmes involving teachers, schools students were made for coastal biodiversity awareness and their role in conservation.
Salient Features of Phase 1
- 17,85,250 mangrove plants, propagules and seeds planted and surviving in appx 100 hect area.
- Three large nurseries were developed at GGS VI, Denva and Valipur holding a stock of 5,00,000 saplings
- Rhizhophora mucronata was successfully planted at Gandhar
- Two mobile education units developed
- 60,000 students and 1500 teachers participated in over 1000 various education activities in Maharashtra and Gujarat coastal areas.
- 10 wetland clubs were established
- Special wallpaper entitled ‘Wetlands” was started exclusively for the wetland clubs which has a membership of 900 students
- 250 coastal villages covered under community education and socio-economic survey. 20,000 local community members, mainly fisherman and women participated in community awareness programmes
- Project has provided employment to 150 local community members in Gandhar region
Two documentaries are developed towards mangrove awareness.