PROGRAMME STRATEGY DESIGN
July 2019 - ongoing
As countries race to meet their commitments to protect at least 10% of the ocean by 2020, it is becoming increasingly clear that just area-based management is insufficient. Addressing threats to our imperilled marine and coastal ecosystems requires collective vision, action and commitment. Celebrating 150 years of the Tata Group, Tata Chemicals Pvt. Ltd. is creating C-SCAPES (Centre for Sustainable Action & Protection of Ecosystems of the Seas) for the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal resources in India. As a part of this, EcoNiche is exploring and collaboratively mapping current and future needs with partners along the Indian coastline. Our efforts at building and sustaining coastal stakeholder networks are revealing alternate pathways for better governance and equitable use of ocean resources, and towards building resilient coastal livelihoods and lives.
October - November 2019
In the last decade, Arunachal Pradesh has witnessed a phenomenal approval rate for hydroelectric projects. One such, the Dibang Multipurpose Project, is touted to be India's largest dam. It has resonance with both promise and anxiety. Located in the biodiverse Dibang Valley, it is the traditional homeland of the Idu Mishmi peoples. Their relationship with wildlife and the riverine ecosystem is one of respect and understanding, but stands threatened by changing externalities. As part of a scoping study, we conducted practical mapping exercises with decision-makers, community leaders and youth, across the Dibang Valley, to evaluate perceived impacts of the dam (throughout its lifecycle), to advise management, mitigation and adaptation interventions.
In the last few years, nature has repeatedly reminded us that our climate is changing, often towards the extreme. Three choices seem available to us: mitigation, adaptation and suffering. Inadequate attention is being paid to the latter two, particularly along the east coast of India, which is vulnerable to the cumulative impacts of climate change and poverty. With Dr. Saudamini Das, (NABARD Chair Professor at the Institute of Economic Growth of Delhi), we undertook a study to identify the factors that enabled local coastal communities to adapt and cope with the impacts of cyclones Phailin (2013) and Hudhud (2014). Through social surveys, GIS and satellite data and econometric analyses, we studied the time required for coastal households to return to pre-cyclone conditions. We found that factors including tertiary school education, decision-making power and influence of women, and the presence of native vegetation including cashew and palmyra, enabled the communities to build resilience toward cyclones. Our paper Identifying the local factors of resilience during cyclone Hudhud and Phailin on the east coast of India, was published in the scientific journal Ambio.
Listen to our Director talk about the paper at Goa University in December 2019.
The UN General Assembly has declared 2021-2030 the decade on Ecosystem Restoration, with an aim to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight climate change, and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity. Lesser known marine ecosystems like seagrass are capable of delivering all of this and more. However, the global decline of seagrass beds is severe, due to increasing human-induced stressors and changing climatic conditions. Restoration of seagrasses is an evolving science. Partnering with the Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute (SDMRI), we developed a seagrass restoration tool in the Gulf of Mannar (GoM), Southeast India. This was the first wide-scale seagrass restorationeffort in Indian waters.The results of these efforts were published in the scientific journal Environmental Monitoring Assessment in June 2019, as Seagrass Restoration in Gulf of Mannar, Tamil Nadu, Southeast India: A Viable Management Tool. Get in touch with us to learn more!
In partnership with Terra Conscious and Luta Innovations, we spent a day at the Forest Training Institute in Valpoi (Goa), with guards in training, sharing our knowledge of coastal ecosystems and wildlife. We explored solutions to the challenges that guards face with changing human-wildlife relationships in recent times. We also facilitated training in rescue protocols for stranded endangered marine animals, including turtles and dolphins.
June - July 2019
Recognising that people are rarely taught how to address the complexities of projects through all of their phases, while maintaining alignment with the strategies and objectives agreed upon by donors and project stakeholders, EcoNiche facilitated 3 interactive workshops between June and July 2019, in Goa. These introduced participants to various tools enabling effective project cycle management, and included the best ways to shape framework conditions and how strategic foresight can help create greater visions. Participants were from various backgrounds including development law, marketing and advertising and research.
EDUCATION & AWARENESS
Terra Conscious is a socially and ecologically responsible travel company, based in Goa. As part of their kayaking trails, they aim to raise awareness of the importance of Goa's mangroves. In 1988 it was estimated that Goa had 20,000 hectares of mangroves (Untawale, 1988). We designed a series of communications materials to raise awareness of the importance of mangroves amongst tourists coming to Goa, to enable better use and governance of these coastal ecosystems.
January - December 2019
The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park was established in 1986 with the express purpose of protecting the 21 coral islands off the coast of Tamil Nadu. Over the last 15 years the Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute (SDMRI) has been monitoring, at the behest of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, the health of the coral (and dependent species) in the region. We are supporting SDMRI in mapping the impacts of varying threats and associated conservation efforts over the last 15 years, on the changing coral ecosystem health. In designing an easy to digest coffee table book, we intend to communicate the results to decision-makers and the public, to advise management and conservation efforts in the region.
January - June 2019
Although India has brought into effect a ban on single-use plastics, it still remains to be seen how discarded plastics can be removed from the environment, and repurposed. Based on participatory analyses and literature reviews, we presented how the principles of circular economy are being embodied in existing viable businesses models across India. The case studies demonstrate revolutionary change, through the transformation of something that is readily discarded (such as plastic bottles and fishing nets) into something of utilitarian value (such as houses). They highlight how social, environmental and economic value is being created across India by embracing resource efficiency and circularity. The project was funded by the European Union, implemented by GIZ and TERI (the Energy Resource Institute), with local partners CircleWallas, and for the Goa Government. Get in touch with us to learn more!