Indus Delta mangroves
The Project area sits on the fifth largest delta in the world and is one of WWF’s Global 200 Ecoregions of crucial importance. The area falls within the Green Route of migratory birds and plays a key role in coastal stabilisation and sustenance for local fishing communities in the area. Between 1950-2000, human land use and industrial activity destroyed the biological productivity of the wetland increasing vulnerability for biodiversity and people.
To respond to these threats, the Delta Blue Project was started via a public-private partnership to restore the Sindh Indus Delta Region. Six years since its inception, the project has restored 73,000 ha of degraded mangrove forests, benefiting 43,000 locals and will sequester a total of over 127 million tCO2e over the Project’s lifetime.
Why this project?
Mangroves play a crucial role in coastal storm and flood protection especially in Pakistan, which is among the top countries in the Long-Term Climate Risk Index. Declining mangrove cover and a weak wetland ecosystem has significantly lowered this region’s capacity to provide climate resilience to people affected by regular flooding events in Pakistan. Additionally, mangroves are a strong carbon sink and are capable of capturing twice as much carbon than forests, thus meeting our climate ambitions. The global ecological significance of this region added with the low socio-economic characteristics of people dependent on it makes this project one of the most crucial places to support and direct climate funding to. The Project is a joint collaboration between the Government of Pakistan and Indus Delta Capital Ltd. It builds on the Sindh Government’s Mangroves for the Future (MFF) strategy from 2010.
Good for Earth
The Project has identified the core issues for degradation of the Indus delta as “poor appreciation of biodiversity value”. Project activities for biodiversity has thus been designed to tackle these through four broad themes: Wetland restoration, Habitat security enhancement, Sustainable land use and Improved awareness raising and advocacy.
Already, 73,125 ha within the Project has been replanted and Mangrove Stewardship Agreement signed with communities to improve protection and care for the planted mangrove saplings. Also, communities are being organized into Village Development Communities (VDCs) to protect and improve monitoring of the key biodiversity.
The first monitoring report has already noted an improvement in the 11 globally threatened species, including the Indus River dolphin, the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin the Indian pangolin and the fishing cat, and for numerous other migratory birds, mammals, reptiles and fishes in the region. Climate benefits have been perceived through reduced occurrence and intensity of climate related hazards due to the fact that the planted mangroves attenuate the wave energy of storms surges, and thus reduce the damaging effects of floods and slow the progression of saline water into inland areas.
Positive for People
The project area surrounds 60 fishing villages inhabited by 42,000 fishing villagers. 70% of the inhabitants fall below the poverty line (over 70% of the population survive on less than $1.25 a day), with high illiteracy rates (31 villages have literacy rates less than 0.1%) and have poor access to health and clean drinking water services.
Social and Biodiversity Impact Assessment (SBIA) was conducted to design the Social Activities for the Project. This includes but is not limited to education and sensitisation exercises, hiring of local personal for capacity building activities. The project will employ 1000 locals for project execution, 400 of which will be women. Proceeds from the project are invested in improving educational outcomes for people such as setting up transportation services for small children to access education, and initiating adult literacy program. The project has already provided clean drinking water access for up to 500 people a day.
Fishing Stewardship Communities (FSCs) have been established to ensure that fishermen are duly compensated, have adequate market access and perform fishing in accordance to sustainable harvesting practices. In addition, the project supports skills-based employment avenues such as crab farming/aquaculture, livestock rearing, training for sorting, processing and marketing fish – as well as providing cold storage facilities and new fishing nets.
All activities will directly contribute to a better standard of living for the poverty-ridden locals that are increasingly facing threats of climate change.