June 3, 2014

Odisha Channel Bureau Bhubaneswar: Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust, being promoted by Indian Grameen Services since 2010 and supported by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Foundation, India has been awarded the prestigious India Biodiversity Awards 2014, initiated by Government of India and the United Nations Development Programme under community stewardship category (Runner Up).The award ceremony was held at Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman and Nicobar Island recently.The awards were presented by Lt Gen.(Retd.) A.K.Singh, Lt.Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Hem Pande, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Chairman, National Biodiversity Authority and UNDP Country Director Jorn Sorensen in Port Blair on the occasion of International day for Biological Diversity.Niranjan Prasad Behera and Purna Chandra Behera received the award on behalf of the Trust.The award includes a Citation, a trophy and a cheque worth Rs.50,000.Announced by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and UNDP, the India Biodiversity Awards recognise excellence in biodiversity governance across the country. It is estimated that nearly 275 million people in India are dependent on forests for subsistence and livelihoods.This dependence is particularly acute for around half of India’s 89 million tribal people who reside in forests or on the fringe of forests.Across India people, communities, governments and conservation agencies are demonstrating ways to conserve biodiversity sustain livelihoods and secure the futures of local communities.“Winners of the 2014 India Biodiversity Awards represent outstanding examples of cooperation between state and civil society in safeguarding India’s rich biodiversity heritage while ensuring a secure future for millions.” Mangalajodi is a small picturesque village on north-western fringe of Chilika Lake in Odisha, known for its marshes and water fowl congregations.It is just 75 km from the State capital Bhubaneswar.The unique site it represents in terms of the bio-diversity, the wilderness its offers to the outsiders and the potential to generate a harmonious co-existence between humans and nature.This has caught the fancy of many people including wildlife lovers, researchers, bird-watchers and tourists.In Mangalajodi, the communities are playing a key role in protection and management of the wetland for a quite some time.These initiatives and partnerships offer excellent opportunities for development of eco-tourism in the area.The distinguishing feature of eco-tourism at Mangalajodi is that it emphasises the ecological fragility, carrying capacity and biodiversity conservation of the region, while acting as a liaison between local communities and the tourism industry.Way back, Mangalajodi was known as bird poacher’s village.The villagers were involved in poaching the birds and earned money by selling it.Lot of facilitations by many has reversed the situation.The efforts by various government and private agencies are quite commendable.The impact is quite visible, since the biodiversity of Mangalajodi wetland ecosystem has been revived significantly with the fact by creating alternate livelihood options for the poachers turned conservators.

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