Small Grants Fund project successfully concluded in India


Developing an integrated management planning framework for the conservation and wise use of Lake Chilika, India

Lake Chilika, the largest coastal lagoon on the east coast of India and lifeline to the entire state of Orissa, is a designated Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) under the Convention on Wetlands since 1981.

Following the visit and recommendations made by a Ramsar Advisory Mission in 2001, a project was initiated in 2004 to develop a single management plan to restore the ecological character of the lake while providing economic benefits to local communities. The project was led by Wetlands International – South Asia (WISA) and Chilika Development Authority with support from Ramsar’s Small Grants Fund and has now been completed.

The Chief Minister of Orissa, Mr. Naveen Pattnaik kicks off the management planning workshop (October 2009)

The main objective of the project was to develop a framework for an integrated management plan of Lake Chilika based on ecological, socioeconomic, cultural and institutional features and addressing the factors determining the above-mentioned features. The project also aimed at designing and monitoring an evaluation framework within Chilika Development Authority (CDA) and other participating organizations.

The methodology adopted for the management plan largely follows the Ramsar Convention’s guidelines, which recommend a diagnostic approach based on a critical evaluation of ecological, economic and socio-cultural features to identify objectives and operational limits including effective restoration and management of wetland ecosystems.

During the project period, the following achievements were made through cooperation with related administrative organizations, NGOs and civil society:

  • Report on “Evaluation of wetland features” including geology and geomorphology, hydrological regimes, biodiversity, livelihood systems and ecosystem services of Chilika Lake
  • Description of the ecological character of the lake, including status and trends in components, processes and services, threats to ecological character, knowledge gaps and assessment of the needs.
  • Institutional arrangements and management planning framework

The management planning framework development process has taken a considerable time due to the extensive consultation process, expert input and stakeholder endorsement. The framework has been endorsed by the Governing Body of the Chilika Development Authority, headed by the Chief Minister. The project is one the first of its kind in India that aims to define ecological character and use it as a basis of management planning and design of intervention strategies.

Report by Saber Masoomi, Regional Assistant for Asia-Oceania

Photos provided by Wetlands International-India

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