Tata Chemicals, through its CSR arm ‘Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD)’, observed International Biodiversity Day with an initiative to protect the local biodiversity of Okhamandal in Gujarat, which is threatened by an alien invasive weed species called Gandobawal (Prosopis julieflora).
Letting Gandobawal grow uncontrollably poses several risks, such as it depletes the groundwater level; increases soil salinity; and makes the grassland more susceptible to wildfires. Its presence also poses a threat to habitat-dependent species.
In an effort to contain the spread of Gandobawal, TCSRD organized a volunteering initiative to create awareness about this issue and also take necessary measures to protect the local biodiversity.
The invasion of Gandobawal over Okhamandal has largely been facilitated by Nilgai, the largest species of antelope in Asia, which resides in this region. During the summer season, the Nilgai have to forage for sufficient food resources, and end up depending on Gandobawal fruit for sustenance. However, the animals find it difficult to digest the seeds, which are released through their droppings, making their way into the soil throughout the region. Considering that the monsoon is around the corner, which could lead to a greater spread of the weed, immediate action was required. Accordingly, TCSRD’s volunteering initiative aimed at protecting 15 acres of grassland in the region that has been encroached by Gandobawal, and focused on collecting and disposing Nilgai droppings, which would help decrease the growth rate of the weed species.
Control of the spread of this invasive weed has been emphasized under biodiversity conservation, and conserving biodiversity is the answer to several sustainable development challenges – from natural solutions to tackling climate change, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods.
“Biodiversity restoration and environment conservation are important goals for Tata Chemicals. This year, following the theme for International Biodiversity Day – ‘Building a shared future for all life’, it is important to raise awareness and take action towards controlling the growth rate of foreign invasive species and nurturing the local flora of Okhamandal that helps tackle climate change. We shall continue with such initiatives with support from the community to regenerate, preserve and protectour ecosystems” said Mr N Kamath, Chief Manufacturing Officer & Site Head Mithapur, Tata Chemicals.
Tata Chemicals has reaffirmed its commitment towards the enhancement of biodiversity and developing baselines and action plans for its management and sustainability. The company’s ongoing initiatives like Coral Reef Restoration, and Save the Whale Shark, among others, provide testimony to this mission. The company’s restoration efforts have not only enhanced ecosystems and benefited the wildlife in the region, but have also created livelihood opportunities, generated employment, and increased community knowledge and participation in these activities, all aiding the study of ecosystems.
Over the years for the work done in the realm of biodiversity, Tata Chemicals has won the UN Global Compact India Award for Best Biodiversity Case Study in 2017, and the CII Sustainability Award for Significant Achievement in Biodiversity in 2019.
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