This case study describes a framework for integrated lagoon basin management including interventions in both the coastal processes and the river basin itself for restoration of a severely threatened lagoon with an ecosystem approach. Application of GIS and remote sensing tools have been useful tools for monitoring and assessment of the lagoon.
The outcome has been a significant improvement of the ecological health of the lagoon, including a substantial per capita income of the fishing community due to the restoration of the lagoon.
After the reception of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award in 2002, the case has received international recognition, and the experiences demonstrate the promising potentials in reforming the management frameworks of the numerous important coastal wetlands in the Asian region.
The extraordinary implementation success of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) can be related to the non-bureaucratic organizational setup, which actually has no formal legal mandate.
Supported by a high-level Governing Body with strong political backing and with full access to government funding, the CDA combines the stability of a government authority with the implementation flexibility of the private sector, avoiding the constraints of the normal bureaucracy. The management philosophy of CDA is pragmatic and outcome-focused, implemented by innovative leadership and a strong and committed core team.
Management steps by the CDA are widely debated, researched and implemented, and this extensive consultative approach has contributed significantly to the success of the management actions undertaken. The CDA is also actively involved in local socio-economic activities in support of local communities. It is also backed by a strong outreach programme with active participation of the local communities, NGOs and the community based organisations.
The hydrological interventions for the restoration of the lagoon have resulted in considerable improvement of its fishery resources, water quality and a positive impact on the biodiversity of the lagoon. Consequently, this has significantly contributed towards the increase in the per capita income of the community who depend on the lagoon for their livelihood.
The increase in the productivity level both in the wetland as well as the watershed due to the good environmental practices facilitated the poverty alleviation of the community.
The community participation and stewardship, linkage with the various national and international professional institutions, intensive monitoring and assessment system are some of the uniqueness of the management practices adopted by CDA for restoration of this wetland.
At the same time, time is now ripe to start a process to establish a participatory and a self-sustainable mechanism for conservation and wise-use of the resources of the lagoon on a long-term basis.
Importance of the case for IWRM
This case demonstrates how a clear understanding of the coastal process and the river basin is essential for restoration of a coastal wetland. The intervention for improvement of the hydrological regime and the participatory management of the watershed resulted in the enhancement of the productivity thereby increase in the per capita income of the community.
The intensive monitoring and assessment system, linkages between the scientific studies and the management interventions are some of the uniqueness of the management practices adopted by CDA for restoration of this unique wetland This has also facilitated the self-initiated good practices by the community. It can be replicated in many other coastal wetlands facing similar problems.
Photo credit: Anirban Biswas | Wikimedia Commons