Conservation of Periurban Wetland Ecology
Peri-urban areas are neglected zones in terms of strategic planning and fall between the urban and rural development trajectories. They are areas that respond to urban demands, but face ecosystem degradation amidst rising poverty. Planners often respond to immediate needs of these spaces in an ad-hoc manner, lacking adequacy in sustainability perspective.
Conservation of such periurban wetlands in the rapidly urbanizing Ganga-Brahmaputra basin is a flagship program of SAFE and it has ongoing community based interventions pertaining to habitat restoration, biodiversity conservation and livelihood management towards poverty alleviation in these areas.
Some significant contribution is enlisted here under.
East Kolkata Wetlands Ramsar site, Kolkata West Bengal
SAFE successfully launched Indian first BIORIGHTS project in this Ramsar site with a mission to prevent it from getting recorded in the Mauntrex list, owing severe urban encroachment, habitat and biodiversity loss and deteriorating ecosystem services. In the context of the project 37Sq Km of core wetlands in the urban fringe could be restored as per the norms of Ramsar Convention. This has saved the livelihood of nearly 25,000 wastewater fishers, who have formed the first "Wastewater Fishers Association" in the world promoting natural resource recycling, ground water charging, rain water harvesting, Biodiversity conservation and as well augmentation of carbon sequestration potentials in the wetlands. SAFE prepared the first GPS based wetland inventory for the study area. SAFE has carried out massive financial inclusion program for the poor fishers and promoted ecotourism as an alternative livelihood for compensating the opportunity costs, incurred in their conservation efforts through micro-insurance coverage. SAFE's endeavour in conserving the East Kolkata Ramsar Wetlands has saved it from getting delisted and the Biorights case has been showcased as a best practice inclusive model in the 4th TEEB Report of UNEP. http://www.teebweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Conserving-wetlands-through-microfinance-programs-India.pdf. The activities of SAFE has been supported by Govt. of West Bengal, DFID (UK), British Ecological Society, American Consulate in Kolkata, Various corporate houses like PwC, VEL, DLF etc. A publication is cited here on Biorights: https://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/dlc/bitstream/handle/10535/1874/Dey_124901.pdf?sequence=1
DeeporBeel (Ramsar Site), Guwahati Assam
SAFE has launched an action research in collaboration with NABARD Guwahati to evaluate the ecosystem services extended by the wetland to 12 rural villages and the city of Guwahati using geospatial decision support tool that would also map livelihood patterns and undertake decadal change detection research. Following this SAFE would launch a program in DeeporBeel for Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture to reduce pressure on livelihood and diminish man-elephant conflict in the area.
Barapani Lake Shillong, Meghalaya
SAFE in collaboration with Shillong Municipal Corporation under urban development authority of Meghalaya is monitoring the water quality of Barapani Lake and studying its seasonal plankton vegetation dynamics in order to prepare a conservation program to preserve the water resource for the city. This is a part of SAFE's ongoing monitoring program on high altitude water bodies in eastern ecoregion of India for which SAFE has been awarded the International BIWA Research Award from ILEC, Japan.
SAFE has been relentlessly working in conservation of wetlands in Bihar-Nepal border areas that lies in continuation with the Kosi-Tappu Ramsar site of Nepal since 2004. These community based interventions are for developing resilience and preparedness to combat the erratic Kosi floods. IUCN has published references papers on these works from Bangladesh through their international workshop proceedings.
Majuli district in Assam is the only island district in the country. Every year 38% land gets completely submerged by flood waters for 7-8 months in Majuli and nearly 77 % of agrarian land is inundated by flood waters that compels two-third of the community to temporarily migrate. Despite this, it has been so rich in it’s nature capital, ecosystem services and diverse ethnicity that UNESCO is considering this wonder island for the World Heritage tag. Being a flood prone area the project innovation is 'Agriculture in floating raft' and 'Aquaculture in cage' and ensure sustainable livelihood and food security for marginal farmers towards community level disaster preparedness.Total of 26 floating rafts were made and set up at both upper and lower parts of Majuli which produced 60 kgs of Maricha, 83 kgs of Beans, 190 kgs of Vendi, 42 kgs of Pudina. Parallel capacity building of aquaculture or fish farming also developed through fish cage and pen process. This way the fishes did not flood away with overflowing water and helped in the growth of pisciculture gradually. The profit on sale of the products from both the types of farming is estimated tobe 72%. This in turn has sensitized 27 villages and 72 6- membered JLGs bank has been linked. This is 57.14% growth over 5 years. The successful piloting is now being scaled-up by 10 times for the next cycle.