5th of June is designated by the United Nations as World Environment Day. It is to signify the importance and protection of the environment. Like every year, World Environment Day, 2021, is being observed with a theme. The theme is Ecosystem Restoration. Restoration of ecosystem implies assisting in the recovery of damaged, degraded or destroyed ecosystems. We have a few extraordinary Ecosystem Restoration Projects in India which deserve our attention. Let's see a few significant ones today.
‘Project Tiger' in Jim Corbett National Park
Afforestation, exploitation of forests for fuel and timber, plantation and irrigation, trophy hunting which is absolutely banned in India and poaching are the major reasons for a drastic reduction in the population of tigers. The main aim of ‘Project Tiger' is to increase the visible population of tigers for ecological, biological, scientific, educational, aesthetics and economic value. Bengal Tigers in India are a national heritage.
‘Project Tiger' is one of the most successful Ecosystem Restoration Projects in India where investment in effective habitat protection and connectivity is the most important aspect. Besides research and application, tiger landscape management with special veterinary care is at the core of things. Control of poaching has also yielded a remarkable growth in the population size of tigers, without degradation of the ecosystem or the entire habitat. The project is controlled by the Directorate of ‘Project Tiger' of the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Jim Corbett National Park, in Uttarakhand, is the first to have the project running. Dhikala is the core area of the National Park. Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest National Park in India, established in 1936, named after the famous hunter and naturalist, ‘Jim Corbett'. It has sub-Himalayan ecological characters, situated at an elevation ranging from 1300 to 4000 feet. It comprises rolling hills, dense deciduous forest as well as grasslands. Almost 500 species of animals are present here. The picturesque National Park, at the Himalayan foothills, is extremely popular for safaris and bird watching. Some of the pictures of Jim Corbett National Park shared here are clicked by a friend, Debashish Kumar.
The nearest railway station is Ramnagar, 50 kilometres from Jim Corbett National Park. There are connecting trains from Delhi to Ramnagar. Pantnagar, 83 kilometres from the National Park, is the nearest airport. It is a 2 hours' drive.
‘Project Elephant' in Dooars Region of west bengal
When it comes to man-animal conflict, Asiatic elephant versus man is the most common thing we hear of, in India. Elephant corridors, the migration routes of these huge animals, generally includes farmlands, highways and villages in India. ‘Project Elephant' is one of those Ecosystem Restoration Projects in India which aims at maintaining a balance in the ecosystem, trying to restore the natural habitat in the best possible way.
The government of India's Ministry of Environment and Forests are providing financial and technical support. Elephants are free-ranging wild animals. So creating awareness among local people is of supreme importance. Conservation and protection of elephants and their habitats and migratory corridors, together with peaceful coexistence with humans, involve scientifically well-planned methods of management and close observation. Human domestic activities in crucial elephant zones are moderated. This project is successfully running in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. Asiatic Elephants are national heritage animals in India.
The development of ecotourism is an important feature of Ecosystem Restoration Projects in India. The Dooars region of West Bengal has developed ecotourism in pockets. They have enabled in protecting the elephants and their natural habitats. They have minimised man-elephant conflict by employing the local tribes. Injured elephants are rescued and trained to patrol the forests. The locals are trained and employed to look after these elephants. Tribal cultural activities and handicrafts are encouraged. This prevents them from exploiting the forests. One such Elephant Camp called ‘Gachbari' is present in Dhupjhura of Gorumara National Park, West Bengal. Set in the Himalayan foothills of Dooars, lies the sprawling park with dense forests and riverine grasslands. This park has been declared the best among protected areas in India by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The most accessible and popular railway station is New Jalpaiguri Junction, 50 kilometres away. There are other distinguished railway stations too like New Maynaguri and New Mal Junction which are 30 kilometres and 20 kilometres away, respectively.
‘Project Dolphin' at Chilika Lake
‘Project Dolphin' is one of the unique and comparatively new Ecosystem Restoration Projects in India. It is implemented by the Government of India's Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. It aims at protecting river dolphins as well as marine dolphins, together with strengthening the aquatic biodiversity. Gangetic Dolphins are India's National Aquatic Animal. They are at the top of the food chain. Hence, protection of the species and their habitat ensures the conservation of aquatic lives in the rivers, with River Ganga spreading across numerous states. The emergence of dams, barrages and indiscriminate fishing is a threat to these aquatic mammals and other aquatic animals.
Chilika Lake in Odisha (Orissa), a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site, covering an area of 1100 square kilometres, home to numerous threatened species of plants and animals. It is a brackish lagoon. It is the largest wintering ground for is popular for numerous migratory birds. The lake is an ecosystem with a humungous fishery and other aquatic resources. Endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin is one of them.
Like most of the Ecosystem Restoration Projects in India, this one too aims at protection and finally visible growth of dolphins, without degrading the ecosystem. The lagoon is the lifeline of the human community too. The lake is also of great value in preserving genetic diversity. IIT Chennai, one of India's most premier technical and research Universities, extends assistance towards further research and management. Adequate monitoring aids in the reduction of certain threats like uncontrolled fishing, excessive prawn culture for consumption, weed infestation and salinity control.
The Chilika Development Authority (CDA) actively works towards the protection and management of the lake ecosystem. The ecotourism developed has enabled alternate employment to the locals. It definitely has led to their environmental awareness. This has also helped in growing a conservationist mindset amongst the visitors of the scenic lake.
Puri, 50 kilometres away, is the nearest railway station to Chilika. Biju Patnaik International Airport at Bhubaneswar is 105 kilometres from Chilika Lake.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.