The World Bank last week approved a $15.36 million credit and $8.14 million grant for the Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvement Project to support the Government of India in its efforts to conserve high-value forest areas while improving the livelihoods of forest dependent communities. The project will conserve biodiversity, while improving rural livelihoods by applying culturally appropriate and tested participatory approaches to support opportunities for improving rural livelihoods.
“India is among the most diverse countries with up to 47,000 species of plants and some 90,000 species of animal and the country’s biodiversity is fundamental to human well being,” said Malcolm Jansen, World Bank Senior Environmental Specialist and Project Leader. “Millions are dependent locally on forests for their subsistence and livelihood and 70% of India’s rural population depend on fuel wood to meet domestic energy needs.”
India’s rich biodiversity is threatened by increased population pressures and overutilization of resources along with development that is largely inconsistent with conservation objectives. These threats coupled with the country’s high incidence of poverty have accelerated the speed of degradation.
In recent years, the Government of India (GOI) and several states has established a network of more than 500 protected areas across different ecosystems and bioregions to conserve the country’s unique biodiversity and natural habitats, there are clear constraints to the viability and effectiveness of the conservation of the existing protected areas (PAs). These PAs are largely managed as “islands” surrounded by other forms of land use that are often not compatible with conservation goals. The absence of an integrated land and natural resource use focus, particularly for areas surrounding the PAs has constrained conservation strategies to reduce threats to biodiversity.
“The key to successful conservation is making sure that development outside the PAs is conservation-friendly and that communities are able to share in the benefits of biodiversity conservation,” Jansen said. “The project promotes a more focused and holistic approach that attempts to integrate development and land-related concerns with biodiversity conservation within the PAs and surrounding lands.”
The World Bank has been a major financier of biodiversity projects globally and has supported innovative participatory models of biodiversity conservation in and around protected areas. This experience has allowed unique perspective in piloting and replicating management approaches that integrate conservation and production landscapes within the framework of sustainable land and natural resource management. Working in conjunction with the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), who will be responsible for implementation, the project will last six years with core activities undertaken by communities themselves.
The World Bank assistance comprises of a US$15.36 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank’s concessionary lending arm, and a grant of US$8.14 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund. The credit carries a 0.75% service charge, a maturity of 35 years and a grace period of 10 years