The project titled "Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation" at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun, forms an integral part NMCG’s vision for Ganga Rejuvenation by restoring Ganga’s ecological integrity. It is being acknowledged that a successful river restoration project should be based on the ecological character of a healthy river that includes the aquatic biota as good indicators of river health. Thus, river managers are turning from hard engineering solutions to ecological based restoration activities in order to improve degraded rivers. River restoration projects aim to maintain or increase ecosystem goods and services and biodiversity value while protecting downstream and coastal ecosystems. The main aim of this project thus is to develop a science-based aquatic species restoration plan for Ganga River by involving multiple stakeholders.
The project has the following six components to achieve this objective.
Establish Ganga Aqualife Conservation Monitoring Centre at WII Dehra Dun for science based conservation planning and dissemination of information.
Prepare biodiversity profile of Ganga River and develop pilot species restoration plans for select stretches and species.
Develop capacity of Forest Department and other stakeholders of the Ganga River States in monitoring of identified species of conservation significance.
Assist NMCG in establishing the rescue and rehabilitation centres for endangered fauna of the Ganga at select sites by developing human resources and infrastructure with support from the Forest and Veterinary departments.
Elicit participation of local communities in NMCG initiatives by providing platforms through Panchayati Raj System, capacity development and payment for ecosystem services.
Develop and implement conservation education programmes for the river side communities of the Ganga River.
Establishment of Ganga Aqualife Conservation Monitoring Centre
In its endeavor, the NMCG has identified the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehra Dun, as a lead knowledge partner institution for aquatic species restoration in Ganga River. The NMCG and WII have agreed to establish the Ganga Aqualife Conservation Monitoring Centre at WII. The aim of this Centre is to promote science-based restoration of aquatic wildlife in the Ganga River by involving the relevant stakeholders in the restoration process.
- Build up a scientific knowledge base on aquatic wildlife of Ganga River Basin in accordance with the objectives of the proposed Ganga Knowledge Centres through literature survey and field observations.
- Disseminate knowledge on Ganga to the general public and scientific community through print and electronic medium.
- Promote sustainable utilization of goods and services provided by the riverine ecosystem by developing stake of local communities in conservation efforts in consonance with the Indian cultural and socio-economic milieu.
- Develop and promote national guidelines for considering the needs of aquatic fauna in planning and executing water development projects.
- Develop a Centre of International Importance on Aquatic Wildlife and Natural Resource Conservation.
- Consolidated study report on the biodiversity conservation status of Ganga River to assist National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in future conservation planning to safeguard the aquatic wildlife.
- A website ‘biodiversity information system’ for dissemination of information on Ganga to the public.
- Status of select species of conservation concern such as otters, riverine nesting birds and amphibians.
- Preparation of a ‘guideline document’ to integrate ecosystem service values of riverine ecosystem into the conservation planning.
- A 'national guideline document' to integrate ecosystem service values of riverine ecosystem into the conservation planning.
- A guideline document for considering the needs of aquatic fauna in planning and execution of water development projects and promote these guidelines by sensitizing the policy makers.
- By the end of the project a fully operational GACMC will be established for the study of aquatic wildlife and natural resources in Ganga River.
Planning Aquatic Species Restoration for Ganga River
In order to restore the ecological integrity of an aquatic ecosystem, it is vital to recover and restore its biodiversity. The aim of the programme is to derive the state of biodiversity in the Ganga River so that an effective restoration plan can be built.
- Derive the empirical relationships between river conditions and ecological status of the major species so as to determine the desired future state.
- Derive the current trend in genetic variability and gene flow of the critically endangered and endangered species that might have been disrupted due to fragmentation of the longitudinal connectivity of the river.
- Assess the concentration of key pollutants in species of conservation significance that may affect their long term survival.
- Map the areas of high species diversity in GIS domain where natural regeneration of wildlife population can be augmented.
- Identify indicator species/communities that could be used for monitoring the ecological health of the Ganga River.
- Develop an aquatic species restoration plan and demonstrate species restoration in select stretches of Ganga.
- Abundance for species of conservation significance including River dolphins and their habitat for select stretches of the Ganga River.
- Status of various environmental factors such as water flow, water depth, water quality and anthropogenic activities for select stretches of the Ganga River.
- The extent of genetic variability and gene flow in selected aquatic species to understand the effect of reduced water flow and transverse barriers.
- Level of pollutants like heavy metals and organochlorine pesticides in the abiotic and biotic components (aquatic organisms) to ascertain the suitability of river stretches for species under restoration programme.
- A standardized protocol to monitor species’ population/habitat status and assess management effectiveness.
- Prioritization of conservation areas within the select stretches and tributaries.
- Plans for ecological restoration and demonstrate species restoration in select stretches of the Ganga.
Capacity Building of Forest Department and other Stakeholders
It is critical to develop capacity of local volunteers and frontline staff of the forest department, for successful generation of ecological baseline information that can be used for subsequent monitoring of Ganga River and its resources. The aim of this component is to build capacity of these and other stakeholders so that they can effectively contribute to the restoration and conservation of the biodiversity of Ganga River.
- Develop capacity of Forest Officers of Ganga States and other stakeholders for monitoring of aquatic wildlife of conservation concern, management planning of wetlands, community involvement in conservation and conservation education.
- Identify and create spearhead teams consisting of selected forest staff and local youth and train them in different aspects of participatory biodiversity conservation and methodologies for survey of the indicator species.
- Develop training material for the above training programmes and for future use.
- Trained spearhead teams to carry forward the training activities.
- Training materials
- Around 300 Forest Officers and staff and other stakeholders trained during the three year period.
- A spearhead team of trained youth (volunteers from local communities) to carry out baseline surveys of indicator species by involving individuals from the local communities for a period of three years.
Establishment of Rescue and Rehabilitation Centres
In many places along the Ganga River, the wildlife is in distress due to entanglement in fishing nets, poaching and accidentally venturing into unsuitable areas. The aim of this component is to address this critical issue endangering the existence of important aquatic fauna by putting in place a system of rescue and rehabilitation for aquatic species along the entire stretch of the Ganga.
- Establishment and upgradation of rescue and rehabilitation centres at Narora and Sarnath.
- Capacity enhancement of local communities.
- Capacity enhancement of personnel of the forest department and field veterinarians in managing emergent situations.
- Development of infrastructure for effective rescue and rehabilitation of higher aquatic vertebrate fauna of Ganga River and centres for dissemination of skills needed for addressing emergent situations.
- A network of representatives from riverside communities that is sensitive and motivated to report and assist in addressing emergent situations pertaining to higher aquatic vertebrate fauna of Ganga River.
- Capacity development of forest department personnel and field veterinarians in skills needed for handling emergent situations pertaining to higher aquatic vertebrate fauna of Ganga River.
Community Based Conservation Programmes for Species Restoration in Ganga River
The main aim of this component is to develop incentive based strategies for local communities in order to mobilize them to participate in the conservation of Ganga River and its biodiversity.
- Involve local communities in conservation of Ganga through the Panchayati Raj System.
- Elicit the participation of stakeholders at different levels to achieve the biodiversity conservation goal of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).
- Assess the monetary contribution of ecosystem services provided by Ganga River to different stakeholders.
- Develop site specific strategies for aligning local people’s livelihoods with conservation priorities.
- Suggest institutional mechanisms for the sustainability of project initiatives in the demonstration sites.
- A synergistic alliance of institutions in place to facilitate participation of different stakeholders and ensure sectoral coordination.
- Sensitized and trained local communities and other stakeholders throughout the duration of project to participate in the conservation of Ganga and its resources.
- Development of incentive-based conservation tools to reward efficient village level institutions.
- A motivated cadre of "Ganga Prahari" to support the local institutions and monitor the quality of the natural resources of Ganga and to ensure continued functioning of the programme after completion of the project.
- Sustainable livelihood strategies for the people dependent on the Ganga River system.
- A performance based monitoring and evaluation "guide" with key indicators to evaluate effectiveness of community conservation programmes
- Facilitation of the integration of ecosystem service values in the decision making process for conservation development planning along the Ganga by the end of project.
Nature Interpretation and Education for Biodiversity Conservation of Ganga River
The aim of this component is to establish interpretation centres at select sites and educate the local communities about the value of aquatic biodiversity of Ganga River.
- Communicating to the community about the value of aquatic biodiversity and natural processes through the establishment of interpretation centres at three sites.
- Educate and involve the public in the Ganga basin’s natural systems by creating a network of community-based environment education programmes.
- Foster public awareness about the river ecosystem, its status and resources.
- Ganga Conservation Education Centres in three regions established.
- Resource material for conservation education and awareness prepared.
- Cadre of trained manpower for implementation of awareness programs.
Last Updated: March 6, 2019