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  • Writer's pictureManir Dhabak

"Planting 10 Million Mangroves: A Tale of Building Climate Resilience in Sundarbans"

13 Months Ago When I first came to Sundarbans it was a land of mystery to me, where tigers ruled the forest and the water by crocodiles. It is also a place where people reside on the frontlines of the climate crisis and face the brunt of natural disasters such as cyclones every year.

After spending years in the mountains of the Western Ghats, I ventured to the land of rivers with the aim of contributing to the fight against climate change by directly assisting the local communities.

The landscape is completely opposite and so is the culture. But Both places are facing similar problems and solutions are the same. From the forest degradation of the Western Ghats to the deforestation of Mangrove forest, there is the only way to mitigate climate change, by planting more trees.

And I was given the opportunity to undertake the massive challenge of planting 10 million mangroves in the Sundarbans.

Despite having worked in the field of afforestation and reforestation for the past three years, this has been the most significant challenge I have encountered. While planting trees may appear to be a straightforward task, executing a large-scale carbon project is arduous due to its magnitude and complexity. Moreover, our goal wasn't just limited to planting trees, but also to fostering climate resilience among the coastal communities.

Mangrove forests not only sequester four times more carbon than rainforests but also serve as a natural barrier, helping to protect the coastal embankments.

The project provided me with substantial experience that has been valuable for my professional and personal growth.

Through this experience, I gained knowledge about various mangrove species, afforestation techniques, mangrove germination, and, notably, how to integrate scientific knowledge with traditional practices to execute a high-value project focused on implementing carbon projects at the grassroots level.

Despite the lack of transparency in carbon projects and the significant gap among stakeholders these projects offer significant livelihood opportunities and help communities and the environment achieve a better future.

Personally, it helped me to be a better person. I learned to communicate with the communities when I traveled to the rural villages of Sundarbans and told them about the harmful effects of climate change. I came to the realization that many of them were already aware, based on their years of experience, of how the climate is changing. They had witnessed their farmland being destroyed by saline water and their embankments being devoured by the hungry tide.

From the folklore of Bonbibi, they understand that greed is the most perilous trait, and the forests will provide sustenance only if they practice sustainable harvesting.

Thus they came forward to create a forest near their home, so they don’t have to go to the reserved forest risking their lives.

Although it was just 13 months, I feel I have developed a deep connection with the Mangrove and the communities of Sundarbans. I met some amazing people on the journey and learned so much from them.

Even though I worked tirelessly for months, straining both my physical and mental capabilities, I encountered some unpleasant experiences in the end, the most significant accomplishment, in my opinion, is the feeling of contentment that arises when I imagine the day when the seeds and saplings we planted will mature, bestow livelihood opportunities, and safeguard the coastal community, thereby making their world a slightly better place than it is today.

I wish to plant more mangroves in Sundarbans and I am eager to partner with any organization that shares this vision and requires assistance in accomplishing it.

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