The Sundarbans are an archipelago of 102 islands located in the State of West Bengal in eastern India in the Ganges Delta, stretching into southern Bangladesh. They form the largest estuarine mangrove forest in the world. Like many mangrove areas, these coastal forests provide vital protection for millions of people from climate change impacts, cyclones, tidal surges, and coastal erosion.
Livelihoods, in collaboration with Nature Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS), is empowering local villagers to replant mangroves to protect their agricultural lands and homes from the damage of tidal waves. Mangroves are known to be among the most effective natural barriers against flooding. The 16 million mangroves already planted over 5 500 hectares are reinforcing the existing 3,500 km of embankments and dams built by the local communities along the 54 inhabited Sundarban islands.
Additionally, the newly restored mangrove ecosystems will act as a nursery and feeding ground for fish, molluscs and crustaceans, which will bring additional economic and nutritional value to the communities that are impacted by this project. Mangrove forests, when healthy, are the basis of a complex marine food chain.
Lastly, the empowerment of the local women is a direct benefit of this project. NEWS is training them in establishing and maintaining a mangrove nursery, from planting the mangrove trees to managing them in the field. This socially-valuable programme will impart knowledge and skills to the women, elevating their statuses in the communities and instilling them with a sense of pride that they are part of a project that has a significant impact in decreasing poverty, food insecurity and forced migration due to climate change impacts.
To find out more about how mangroves help buffer against nature’s harsh elements, particularly in relation to the communities of the Sundarbans, read the case study jointly prepared with our partner The Ramsar Convention here: Livelihoods Projet in Focus NEWS.pdf