The Challenge
Kutch district, spread over an area of 45,652 sq. km., is the largest district in India. Kutch is more an island as it is bound by the Arabian Sea to the south and west and the unique large Rann (meaning 'salt marsh') to the north and east.
The challenges of biodiversity loss are large in and around the landscape, affecting its various ecosystems. These challenges include the spread of invasive species of flora and fauna, illegal hunting practices and unethical logging, loss of habitat due to deforestation, agriculture and cattle grazing, and over exploitation of medicinal plants.
The Solution
To address the challenges that are degrading Kutch's ecosystems, a range of action plans were carried out. These included:
  • Developing and drafting ethical guidelines (including imposing charges) for research and extraction of natural resources by outsiders
  • Identifying relict patches in conjunction with historical maps to understand the past history, areal extent of the water bodies, restriction of surface area due to silting and other factors, natural landforms, drainage pattern, surface retention of the lake, catchment area of the lake, source water, diversion arrangement of runoff water, oveflow arrangement and more
  • Eradication of invasive species, to be replaced with plantation of indigenous species that benefit the region and the communities that live there
  • Raising awareness on the issue of road-kills of animals by putting up signs, signboards, hoardings and/or speed breakers at specific locations that witness their regular occurrence
  • Hiring locals to keep a consistent watch on illegal hunting practices and unethical logging in and around villages, who are also aided by eco-green efforts by the Forest Department
  • Conducting discussions and public awareness sessions among indigenous people to get rid of beliefs, myths, taboos, and motifs that drive them to hunt certain wildlife, especially endangered ones
The Result
The series of interventions have greatly increased awareness on the local biodiversity and its importance among 3,000 locals and 1,500 students
More than 12 sites have been demarcated for participatory conservation of biodiversity and ecologically sensitive areas, with over 100 acre of land being restored for local species
A few of the sites of implementation have successfully recorded the sighting of threatened species including the Chinkara and White-naped Tit. Also, the increasing awareness on the threatened status of the White-naped Tit has reduced cutting and lopping pressures up to a whopping 80%
For the long-term conservation and maintaining of feeding and resting sites of the Grey Hypocolius, over 700 saplings of Salvadora were distributed to communities to increase habitat potentiality for sustaining the species
The MSU University of Baroda's work in the field of tissue culture collection for certain plant species (i.e. Commiphora stocksiana and Olax nana) has paved the way to provide BMCs (Biodiversity Management Committee) with saplings for the restoration of these indigenous wild species. With these provisions, the BMCs and pastoral communities of Kutch have mutually agreed on the conservation efforts and to protect the local ecosystems of their land