City-based NGO Nature Mates has started a year-long ‘Sunderbans Ecological Restoration’ project to mitigate the impact of cyclone Amphan. It aims to bring back the ecosystem in key areas to its pre-Amphan state.
The cyclone, earlier in May last year, had largely eroded embankments, destroyed mangrove forests, raised salinity in ponds and farmland and dislodged people’s livelihoods on the delta.
The project, with support from a foundation based in the Europe, also eyes to empower locals to face such devastation in a more robust manner.
“We have successfully completed several pond restorations in Amphan-hit areas like Pathapratima and erosion mapping. Mangrove plantation has also started in many areas in and around high-risk zones,” said Arjan Basu Roy, secretary of Nature Mates. The primary goal, according to Basu Roy, is to restore the ecology through plantation and create food and water security for locals with the help of community conservation model.
“Through this model, we hope to reach out to over 500 families in building their livelihoods post-Amphan. This project will turn around several lives and make Sunderbans ecosystem robust,” said Diya Banerjee Sur, a team lead for the project.
Sur said they have tested 200 ponds and treated 40 with proper chemicals to reduce water salinity. “After three months, salinity level of 40 ponds has significantly reduced.” A team member said the large-scale devastation in the region could not be mitigated through just temporary relief. “Hence, this enormous task of re-building ecology and lives of people here,” he said, adding that Vijaygarh Jyotish Ray College has also collaborated in the project.
Basu Roy said erosion mapping would guide them on plantation pattern — selecting plants based on areas where they fit the best.