India launches mangrove, wetlands initiatives in 2023 budget

Published 12:56 on February 1, 2023  /  Last updated at 12:56 on February 1, 2023  / Stian Reklev /  Biodiversity

An initiative to plant mangroves along the coastline and on salt pan lands as well as a wetlands conservation scheme were the main nature-related headlines when India on Wednesday announced its 2023 state budget.

An initiative to plant mangroves along the coastline and on salt pan lands as well as a wetlands conservation scheme were the main nature-related headlines when India on Wednesday announced its 2023 state budget.

The Indian budget contained over $4 billion to fund the nation’s energy transition, but also had room for nature conservation initiatives, though no details were immediately made available on the size of spending.

“Building on India’s success in afforestation, [the] ‘Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes’, MISHTI, will be taken up for mangrove plantation along the coastline and on salt pan lands, wherever feasible,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget speech.

Sitharaman did not go into specifics on a target area size for new mangrove plantations, but said the efforts would be made through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and India’s Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds, which seek to mitigate the impact of diverting forests for non-forest purposes.

The move follows similar actions by several other countries in Asia, with Indonesia having set itself a target of rehabilitating 600,000 hectares of mangroves by 2024.

In the carbon market there is a growing recognition of mangroves’ capability to store carbon while also providing massive biodiversity and climate resilience benefits, and Pakistan, Myanmar, and China are among the nations that have developed carbon credit projects from mangrove planting and rehabilitation.

WETLANDS

Minister Sitharaman also announced India will launch a three-year wetlands scheme named Amrit Dharohar.

“Wetlands are vital ecosystems which sustain biological diversity,” she said.

“The government will promote their unique conservation values through Amrit Dharohar, a scheme that will be implemented over the next three years to encourage optimal use of wetlands, and enhance biodiversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities, and income generation for local communities.”

Details were not immediately made available, but the announcement was welcomed by green groups and observers.

“We hope that through this initiative these ecologically sensitive and biodiversity hotspots are preserved with minimal disruption and local communities have opportunities for dignified livelihoods and income generation,” said Sahana Goswami, a senior programme manager with WRI India’s Water Resilience Practice.

Additionally, India said it would launch a green credit system, but without adding any specifics.

Manish Dabkara, CEO of carbon project developer EKI Energy Services, said in a comment on LinkedIn that “forest and ecosystem” credits might be one of the credit types the government has in mind, though it remains unclear what the programme will look like.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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