Odisha: Reliance Foundation support establishment of community led mangrove nursery in Balasore

Bhubaneswar: Continuing its efforts and community led initiatives promoting Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for Disaster Risk Reduction in disaster prone districts of Odisha, Reliance Foundation in partnership with the local communities, has initiated conservation programme centered on conservation of the mangrove ecosystem in Balasore, Jagatsinghapur, and Ganjam districts of the state. Reliance Foundation has supported in plantation of over 54000 mangrove hypocotyls in some of the vulnerable villages along the coast in these districts, starting from World Environment Day 2023.

Further advancing this initiative, Reliance Foundation has been extending support in establishing community led mangrove nursery, primarily aiding the communities in Kharasahapur, Abhana, Aruhabad, and Baripada Grampanchayats in Balasore district. The initiative is aimed at creating mangrove nurseries, keeping the communities at the core of the programme, starting from identifying the site location, ensuring that seedlings received periodic tidal inundations for growth, and so on. This also included community awareness programs and training sessions with experts. To build a resilient community in this disaster hotspot and to conserve the mangrove ecosystem, Reliance Foundation Disaster Management team planned to establish a community led mangrove nursery near to the plantation site, which can address the seasonal variations, enhance survival rates, get protection from crabs and achieve robust root systems. Also, the sapling stocking strategy helps in addressing casualties in plantation sites and contribute to sustain the mangrove conservation.

Along with the community, multi-stakeholder partnerships have played vital role in the process, with technical guidance from Kanika Forest Range and the Divisional Forest Office of Balasore. Further, Rural Development Centre in Bahanaga supported in mobilisation of local youth volunteers while the Odisha Paryavaran Sanrakshan Abhiyan Trust extended technical support in conducting awareness initiatives. Kharasahapur Gram Panchayat fostered grassroots involvement, ensuring community awareness and nursery care, proving the importance of local government bodies to the process.

Reliance Foundation is extending support in setting up the nursery at Kharasahapur village with multiple varieties of mangrove saplings including Bruguiera Gymnorhiza, Rhizophora, Kandelia Candel and Brugueria Cylindrica, which are expected to be ready for plantation by March 2024. It is worth mentioning that during June – August 2023, Reliance Foundation has supported plantation of over 30,000 mangrove hypocotyls in Panchubisa river mouth area in Balasore district. The initiative was supported by Kanika Forest Range, Rural Development Center, Balasore and local community of Kharasahapur revenue village.

As part of this initiative, a 5-days capacity building training on community led mangrove nursery establishment was conducted for community volunteers with focus on benefits of mangrove ecosystem and classification of mangroves, importance of mangroves for reducing disaster risk, nursery raising techniques of climate resilient mangrove species, best practices for establishment of a community led mangrove nursery, role of community volunteers in mangrove conservation, importance of nurseries, site selection, site preparation, nursery bed preparation, swamp filling, filling bags, seed sowing, fencing and maintenance of nursery. These community volunteers from Kharashapur village contributed in setting up Reliance Foundation mangrove nursery near to Panchubisa river mouth. Besides, Reliance Foundation supported in clearing visible ghost nets during plantation and sensitized the community members to remove the ghost nets they come across as discarded fishing nets often impact the growth of mangrove ecosystem in this region.

It is worth mentioning that mangrove ecosystems are integral to coastal communities, offering protection from erosion, saltwater intrusion, and flooding, while also enhancing food security by conserving fertile soil. Additionally, mangroves are significant carbon sinks, absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide.

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