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. Two action example below :
- East Kolkata Wetlands Ramsar site, Kolkata West Bengal : SAFE successfully launched Indian first BIORIGHTS project in this Ramsar site SAFE’s endeavor in conserving the East Kolkata Ramsar Wetlands and Biorights case study has been showcased as a best practice inclusive model in the 4th TEEB Report of UNEP.
Publication : Click Me
- DeeporBeelRamsar 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 maps livelihood patterns and undertake decadal change detection research. Following this SAFE would launched a program in Deepor Beel for Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture to reduce pressure on livelihood and diminish man-elephant conflict in the area.
Climate adaptive initiatives in rural India
- Promoting climate-smart agriculture for marginal farmers in all states of Eastern and North-eastern India through technology cooperation is a prime concern for SAFE. This program aims in enabling marginal farmers and fishers to adopt and implement less water intensive and low chemical intensive farming practices for mainstreaming them to the future carbon markets. More than 1, 35,000 farmers and fishers are included in these programs, who are benefiting from capacity building and technology cooperation, financial inclusion, social adhesion and mainstreaming through Farmer’s Club activities, empowerment of women farmers and exposures to new technologies through field demonstrations.
- Climate adaptive farming : Algae-cum-fisheries : As a climate adaptive option towards alternative farming in salt water inundated coastal farmlands of poor marginal farmers, SAFE initiated the cultivation of local marine algae in combination with endemic self recruiting local fishes, those both have commercial value and can suffice as food, feed, fodder, fertilizer and even as a cash crop to the climate vulnerable communities. Nearly 28 hectares of inundated coast lands in Kumirmari and Satjelia islands have been brought back to production with 320 farmers benefitting from the production. The program is still ongoing and has been supported by Korea Green Foundation, APN Global Change Research, Japan and most recently M/O Environment & Forest, Govt. of India. (Click Here)
Disaster mitigation and community preparedness
SAFE being an active member of the National Disaster Reduction Council of India and International Disaster Reduction Committee, Davos Switzerland has the onus to undertake community based studies and action research on disaster preparedness and mitigation. Some of the works of SAFE in these fields are highlighted here below.
- GLOF : SAFE has worked extensively on Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) in eastern Himalayas and has developed an impact assessment study report on GLOF in this fragile Himalayan ecology. The same has been awarded the International Kasumiguara Award 2004 from the International Lake Environment Committee of Japan. The same has been deliberated in USAID Asia-Pacific Regional Adaptation Assessment 2010,as available in Here
- Forest Fire : SAFE is working with International Center for Integrated Mountain Research (ICIMOD), Nepal in the ‘SERVIR Himalaya Program’ of NASA and USAID, wherein SAFE team is working on Community Based Interventions of Forest Fire Mitigation using geospatial science tools. The program encompasses 28 districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan (East).
- Coastal Cyclone : SAFE has been in ‘ground-zero’ during cyclone AAILA in Sundarbans and has extended three tier disaster mitigation support to the climate victims. SAFE has extended immediate intensive medical facilities and reported the first health assessment report post cyclone Aaila, published in Times of India, SAFE started massive campaign in nine islands of Gosaba block that was worst hit in ‘Aila cyclone’, for soil engineering and rainwater harvesting to restore the salinity infested farmlands, and SAFE started the in-situ conservation of local salt resistant varieties of rice as a mode of disaster preparedness using Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
Initiatives for Biodiversity Conservation
In compliance with the 20 commandments of ‘Aichi Targets’, SAFE prioritizes conservation of Biodiversity in all of its areas of intervention. Some efforts that are being undertaken by SAFE are depicted here below :
- Rehabilitation and conservation of 10 endemic self recruiting fishes in East Kolkata Wetlands through habitat restoration and restricted fishing. These species are:
- SAFE field station at Sundarbans maintains 07 germplasm of indigenous salt resistant rice varieties (var. jamainadu, getu, nonabokra, keralasundari, taalmugur, kejurchhori, narasingho) through in-situ community conservation method. SAFE is preparing for indigenous seed village to protect these varieties.
- Urban Biodiversity, SAFE initiated the first GPS based inventory of floral biodiversity in Kolkata metropolis by training a group of students in GPS mapping and alfa diversity indexing. The process of inventory preparation is ongoing and would include the other metropolis and urban hubs also as a step ahead in conserving urban biodiversity a reducing heat island effect in the upcoming concrete canopy above the tree line, SAFE has propounded a programme of developing vertical greens by training the unemployed urban youth in horticultural and hydroponic farming.
- Endangered Avifauna (Grusnigricolis); SAFE has worked on the habitat conservation of black necked cranes in Phobgika and Yngtshi valley of Bhutan which is the winter resting ground of the cranes.
- Orchid and Lichen Diversity of Eastern Himalayas; Conservationists of SAFE have surveyed extensively on the orchid and lichen diversity in eastern Himalayas in order to develop ecological indicators of air pollution in the pristine ecology.
Renewable Energy for commons
SAFE has a mandate for promoting community governance of natural resources and equity in energy allocation and usage. As a part to this end, SAFE is extensively promoting renewable energy for Adaptive mitigation of climate impacts. To downscale urban emission footprints SAFE is installing 5 Nos 10 KW Solar Plant in Kolkata and Guwahati of which the first one is already commissioned in the WASH-US project in Kolkata, and Sunderbans, that has been funded by HSBC Water Programme. The replication of solar WASH has come up in Guwahati which has been funded by the World Bank. Research and planning division of SAFE is committed to design innovations for a sustainable change at grassroot level.
SAFE has successfully installed 4.5 Cu Mt Biogas Plant (Dinabandhu Model of IIT Kharagpur) running on human waste and solid waste and is connected to the sanitation units under the integrated WASH program. Each biogas plant is fed with refuse from toilets to generate energy for community kitchen in both rural and urban area.