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Increasing & improving the tree cover in the Western Ghats: Project CRREA

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The mountain chain of Western Ghats of India, a biodiversity hotspot, covers an area of over 150,000 square kilometers spanning a stretch of 1,600 kilometers that runs almost parallel to the western coast covering six states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu to Kerala. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added India’s Western Ghats — a mountain range that has forests older than those in the Himalayas — to the list of world heritage sites. The Western Ghats are today internationally recognized as a region of immense global importance for the conservation of biological diversity, besides containing areas of high geological, cultural, and aesthetic values. The conservation of the forest cover of the Western Ghats is crucial for not just biodiversity conservation, but also the food and water security of peninsular India and its reliant local communities. Unfortunately, the region faces enormous population pressure (with an estimated 50 million people living in the Western Ghats) and degradation of the environmental resources. Urbanization together with agricultural expansion, livestock grazing, rising pollution, use of agrochemicals, habitat degradation by invasive plant species, illegal stone quarrying, encroachment, and forest loss and fragmentation are posing serious threats to the species and habitats of the Western Ghats. Climate change is also exacerbating a system already under pressure and has the potential to affect large-scale monsoonal processes. 

The alarming rate of loss of tree cover over the last couple of decades can have long-term repercussions, including drying of rivers, massive flooding, landslides, rising temperature, amplification of impact of climate change, and declining rainfall in the peninsular region.

Project CRREA (Climate Responsive & REsource Conservation Action) of CSM is being undertaken in collaboration with local communities, panchayats, forest departments, local CSOs, and other stakeholders across the Western Ghats. The project aims to undertake locally relevant conservation and environmental action which supports and restores the bio-diversity, and other natural resources across the Western Ghats, and in doing so enables a holistic response to climate change and the conservation of the local ecosystems. The initial areas of action have been identified as- 

  1. Increasing and improving the green cover in the Western Ghats 
  2. Supporting local watershed restoration, conservation and development 
  3. Supporting natural soil health restoration and reducing the use of toxic agrochemicals 
  4. Supporting local communities particularly the youth and women for climate change resilience, adaptation and mitigation
  5. Facilitate the adoption of green energy to fulfil the local energy requirements

This fundraising is focusing on- Increasing and improving the green cover, through the following interventions:

  1.  Planting indigenous trees varieties on public lands- It would involve working with local communities and forest departments to collect indigenous seeds, developing seed banks and nurseries, and working with local authorities to undertake tree-planting.
  2.  Rejuvenating local habitats- Local habitats such as foothill grasslands are carbon sinks and are also needed for maintaining the local biodiversity of insects, birds, and endangered species like Nilgiri Tahr.    
  3. Developing Fair Trade systems to enable local farmers earn better prices from current shade-based crops- With volatile agri-product markets e.g. coffee, many smallholder farmers are cutting their existing tree cover, resulting in rapid destruction of green cover on private lands. Developing a Fair Trade model would enable farmers to access better markets for their agri-products. This would incentivize farmers to maintain the existing shade trees on their lands grown over decades.

The main impact being targeted by this action is to improve and increase the green cover in the Western Ghats and also ensuring that the green cover and biodiversity on the private lands of Western Ghats are retained. The final impact of these actions would be to support and promote indigenous biodiversity; conservation of the green cover to protect the flora and fauna; enable greater carbon sequestration; maintain water tables and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the local communities which supports environmental conservation. Specifically the action is aiming to achieve the following:

  1. Increase the green cover- The project is targeting to plant over 100,000 indigenous trees in collaboration with local partners with atleast 20 to 50 local indigenous tree varieties being conserved and planted.
  2. Start pilots for sustainable green livelihoods with between 50 to 100 local coffee growers to deal with their requirements of sustainable livelihood and linking it to the conservation efforts on their farms.
  3. Undertake projects for conversation of specific local habitats and grasslands in the Western Ghats.
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Nursery in BR Hills, Karnataka
Started Nursery in B R Hills, Chamaraja Nagar District, Karnataka State
Organisers
CENTRE FOR SOCIAL MARKETS

CENTRE FOR SOCIAL MARKETS

Beneficiary Charity

GOPALA KRISHNA

GOPALA KRISHNA

Organiser

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