International Biodiversity Day in India


Mangroves in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Photo: Aparna Banerjee

The Indian state of Maharashtra is rich in forest and coastal landscapes and biological diversity. However increasing urbanisation, unsustainable agriculture and poaching are increasingly threatening the sensitive ecosystems and biodiversity.

The IKI project "Sustainable Management of Coastal and Marine Protected Areas" funds the protection of selected coastal regions in Maharashtra and aims to improve the management of protected areas. The project is implemented by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through the Indian-German Biodiversity Programme and is funded by the Federal German Ministry for the Environment with around 10 million euros.

For the International Biodiversity Day, the state of Maharashtra, supported by the project, held several activities aimed at education and awareness-raising. Festivals and field trips for the local communities, but especially for schools, were organised cooperation with the Forest Department, Government of Maharashtra.

In Velas, for example, pupils were taken on an excursion through the local forests while a coordinator at the local forest department explained the benefits of the indigenous flora and identified several birds that thrive on the rich natural mangroves along the coast. Separately a drawing competition themed "What I love about nature" and a film viewing were held. Pupils aged 10 to 15 years in the Village of Thane Creek performed a street play that portrayed the negative effects of increasing urbanisation in local communities and nature.

The local communities also had the chance to participate in active discussions and lectures where, so the organisers, around 60 people took part.