Long Term Monitoring Plan for the Ecosystem Based Conservation Management for BCA – Phase II

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The Project

Bhitarkanika Conservation Area (BCA) is a rich, lush green, vibrant ecosystem lying in the estuarine region of Brahmani, Dhamra andBaitarani rivers in the north-eastern corner of Kendrapara District, Odisha,east coast of India. There are 490 villages around the sanctuary and 410 villages within the sanctuary holding a population of around 0.9 million. The unique biodiversity of Bhitarkanika warrants a high conservation priority.

Although the Forest Department of Odisha provides adequate species protection and conservation efforts, a holistic ecosystem-based approach to reinforce present conservation measures is required. The National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) is conducting a long-term study with the Wildlife Wing of the Forest Department, Government of Odisha (OFSDP-II) to develop an ecosystem-based management programme, considering the potential impact of climate change, increasing human interventions, and the conservation priority for the Bhitarkanika ecosystem. The goal of the study is to create an integrated science-based management plan with multiple components for the long-term management of the mangrove ecosystem. These components will concentrate on determining how mangroves will respond to climate change, what elements will assist them adapt, and how the community will respond.

Long Term Monitoring Plan for the Ecosystem based Conservation Management for BCA – Phase II

Aim

The study is intended to develop an integrated science-based management plan involving various components for the sustainable management of the mangrove ecosystem. These components shall focus on understanding of how mangroves will respond to climate change; what factors will help them survive these changes; and, how the community will respond. The specific work objectives envisaged for the long-term assessment of the Bhitarkanika Conservation Area.

Objectives

  • Identification and assessment of ecosystem values & pressures;

  • Creation of a long term database for physical, chemical and biological components of Bhitarkanika Conservation Area for conservation and maintenance of ecosystem health

  • Delineation of stress factors and short-list appropriate interventions (Social, environmental and climatic);
  • Quantification of tourism and ecological carrying capacity for Bhitarkanika;

  • Development of an Ecosystem Health Report Card as a management tool;

  • Development of ecosystem-based conservation and management plan;

  • Capacity Building of Forest Department personnel to carry out in-house monitoring of ecosystem health.

Expected Outcome

  • Database on real-time and seasonal atmospheric and water quality parameters from BCA developed
  • Microplastics in various environmental matrix determined and quantified
  • Coastal processes assessed through hydrodynamic, bathymetric surveys and numerical modelling
  • Floral and faunal biodiversity assessed in BCA including Zonation pattern of mangroves, lichens, juvenile fish and salt tolerant rice varieties
  • Fishery resources assessed inside BCA and the contribution of inshore fishery resources in the socio-economics determined
  • Dependency of local population on various ecosystem services of BCA determined through household surveys
  • Direct and indirect economic benefits out of crocodiles in BCA will be quantified
  • Atmosphere- Biosphere exchange of carbon measured on a real time basis
  • Annual health report card and Decision support system for conservation and management of BCA