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Community-Led Mangrove Conservation Efforts in Odisha Receive Government Appreciation

Bhubaneswar:  On the occasion of World Environment Day, community volunteers dedicated to the conservation of the mangrove ecosystem in disaster-prone Balasore district, Odisha, have been applauded for their tireless efforts. Their commitment to preserving the mangroves has garnered recognition from higher authorities in the state government, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing conservation efforts.

In response to a mangrove plantation video posted on the popular social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), Odisha Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena expressed appreciation for the community volunteers and Reliance Foundation, which has been instrumental in supporting community-led conservation efforts along the Odisha coast. Describing mangrove conservation as one of the most effective climate mitigation measures, particularly against coastal erosion and for biodiversity protection, he urged the Forest Department to plan massive mangrove plantations along the entire Odisha coast.

As part of their ongoing initiatives promoting Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for Disaster Risk Reduction in disaster-prone districts of Odisha, Reliance Foundation, in collaboration with local communities, has spearheaded a conservation program focused on the mangrove ecosystem in Balasore, Jagatsinghapur, and Ganjam districts. Over the past year, Reliance Foundation has planted more than 50,000 mangrove hypocotyls/plants, contributing significantly to coastal biodiversity while raising awareness among communities about conservation practices.

Building on this initiative, Reliance Foundation has supported the establishment and maintenance of community-led mangrove nurseries, particularly benefiting communities in Kharasahapur, Abhana, Aruhabad, and Baripada Gram Panchayats in Balasore district. These nurseries serve as vital resources for building resilient communities in disaster-prone areas, ensuring the survival and growth of mangrove seedlings amidst seasonal variations and threats from local wildlife. Community involvement has been central to the program, from site identification to regular maintenance and training sessions conducted with expert guidance.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships have also played a crucial role in advancing these conservation efforts, with technical guidance from the Kanika Forest Range, the Divisional Forest Office of Balasore, and the Odisha Paryavaran Sanrakshan Abhiyan Trust. The active involvement of Kharasahapur Gram Panchayat highlights the importance of grassroots engagement and local government support in fostering community-driven conservation initiatives.

Mangrove ecosystems serve as lifelines for coastal communities, offering protection against erosion, saltwater intrusion, and flooding, while also contributing to food security and acting as significant carbon sinks.

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