Dolvi: JSW Foundation, the CSR arm of JSW Group, has taken significant strides in its ongoing mangrove restoration project in Raigad district. Currently, the total number of saplings planted has surpassed over two million, with a survival rate of over 70 per cent, covering 380 hectares of land.
Mangroves are vital salt-tolerant forest ecosystems found in tropical and subtropical inter-tidal regions worldwide. Renowned for their rich biodiversity, these ecosystems play a crucial role as reservoirs of various plant and animal species. Mangroves act as a natural shield between the terrestrial and the marine ecosystems providing a protective barrier against coastal calamities such as storms and tsunamis. Dominated by mangrove trees and shrubs, these habitats offer numerous economic resources to coastal communities and provide an array of benefits to nearby residents.
Since 2016, JSW Foundation has been working to nurture this bio-shield between the water body and the adjoining land that would:
- Prevent erosion of land and deterioration of soil quality thereby arresting the loss of fertility.
- Promote development of habitat for various species of fauna including those of fish, prawns, molluscs, crabs, reptiles and birds.
One of the most unique aspects of this programme is the integration of a ‘Livelihoods’ approach to restore the mangroves. The project has generated alternate livelihoods for nearby coastal communities through composite farming, pisciculture, home-based poultry farming, plantation of mangrove saplings and their transportation to nurseries and creation of environmentally friendly products such as jute bags.
From seed collection to jute bag preparation, nursery management and field plantation, more than 2000 women from 200+ Self Help Groups have not only earned income through project activities but have also developed a deep understanding of the importance of mangroves in their surroundings, collectively earning close to INR 5 Crores in the process. Women were also offered training on tailoring and other value-added products to enhance their livelihood, many yielded benefits too.
Native fishermen communities too have been empowered through the utilisation of community ponds as sources of livelihood. These ponds have been developed for fish farming, and the fishermen have actively participated in cleaning and deepening activities, enhancing both the ecological and economic aspects of their lives. Soil extracted from the excavation of community ponds has been effectively used to construct embankments and enrich adjoining fields. The nutrient-rich soil has proven beneficial for agricultural purposes, supporting sustainable farming practices.
The project has also promoted livelihood diversification through various initiatives such as pisciculture, crab-fattening, home-based poultry farming, and composite farming. These efforts have not only generated additional income streams but have also empowered local communities to explore sustainable economic opportunities.
The successful implementation of this restoration project underscores the importance of community engagement and sustainable livelihoods in environmental conservation. The collective efforts of all stakeholders involved have not only enhanced the mangrove ecosystem but have also improved the lives of local communities.
Commenting on this initiative Ashwini Saxena, CEO of JSW Foundation, “The ongoing mangroves restoration and conservation project at Dolvi, Taluka Pen in Raigad district of Maharashtra state is a reiteration of our commitment to the environment and people. The impact of the mangrove restoration project has been very encouraging for us. Environment management needs to be closely linked to the immediate as well as long-term needs of the communities around for sustenance and the traditional symbiosis that needs to be upheld.”
To further amplify the awareness of mangroves, the Foundation actively commemorates World Mangroves’ Day on the 26th of July each year. Sensitisation sessions, drawing competitions in schools, internal communications on mangrove importance, and sessions with representatives from the Mangroves’ Cell have been key activities conducted over the past five years to raise awareness and promote the sustainable management and conservation of mangroves. These interventions collectively aim to restore mangrove ecosystems, empower local communities, and promote the sustainable management and conservation of mangrove resources.