31 May 2012 – The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Tamil Nadu have reported on results of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GOMBRT), which receives financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The Trust was established promote sustainable development in the region. The Reserve’s biodiversity is increasingly under threat from commercial exploitation, overfishing, illegal mining of reef, changes in the environment and population growth.
Conservation efforts to date have helped coral reef – which lost nearly 25 square kilometers between 1988 and 1998 – recover to close to 50%, stop illegal mining and support local people to look beyond traditional coastal and marine-based livelihoods. Village Marine Conservation and Eco Development Committees, as well as 250 other grassroots organizations, have been established and employ local youth to serve as anti-poaching watchers. Awareness-building campaigns have helped local fishermen use sustainable fishing techniques. Women’s livelihoods have particularly improved, with over 2,000 self-help groups developing alternative enterprises, such as weaving, jiggery production and jasmine cultivation. Children of poor fisher folk are receiving vocational training in air conditioning, refrigerator repair, welding, computer science and printing technology.
Caitlin Wiesen, Director, UNDP India, highlighted that biodiversity conservation cannot be effective without the active engagement of local communities who depend on natural resources.
Source: Biodiversity Policy & Practice