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Berhampur Island, Chilika Lake


Conservation benefit: Planting of 10,000 mangrove and other trees, protecting 20 acres of Chilika lagoon, and conducting environmental education for 10 years

Community benefit: Construction of a solar-powered multipurpose community center

Date Approved: 06.2015


This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Chilika Lake, on India’s east coast, is the largest brackish lagoon in India. It covers almost 400 square miles, and has a narrow opening to the Bay of Bengal. The lake’s astounding biodiversity includes a rich fishery and the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl on the subcontinent. It is home to many rare and endangered species, including the Irrawaddy dolphin, green sea turtle, spoon-billed sandpiper, fishing cat, limbless skink, and khainga (milk fish).

More than 150,000 people make their livelihoods from the rich fishing grounds. But overfishing, irresponsible fishing practices, commercial shrimp farming, erosion, and pollution threaten the lake, its wildlife, and its people. The well-established local NGO Jeevan Rekha Parishad (JRP), is launching a “Save Chilika Lake” movement, addressing a variety of problems facing the communities. As part of this effort, Seacology is funding a community center for the fishing community on Berhampur Island. It will be managed by the local women’s self-help group, assisted by the village head. The community will undertake environmental education, alternative livelihood training, and tree-planting, including mangroves.

Project Updates

May 2017

The women’s self-help groups in charge of this project have brought it to a successful close. The biotoilets have been installed, and a wall and gate built around the community center. Environmental education efforts and the tree-planting program are ongoing, have included trips to the mangroves for 50 students and five teachers, and biodiversity education for 200 boat men and women.

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January 2017

The multipurpose building which will be used in the women’s groups’ candlemaking, cashew-packing, beekeeping, and other businesses, is finished. Environmental education efforts have included trips to the mangroves for 50 students and five teachers, and biodiversity education for 200 boat men and women. Because of the exchange rate, the Seacology grant went further than expected; we recently approved using the extra funds to install biotoilets and construct a wall and gate around the community center.

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April 2016

The brick multipurpose building is more than halfway complete; the ground floor is nearly done, and stairs to the upper floor are built. India field representative Vineeta Hoon and Program Manager Mary Randolph visited in March and were given a warm welcome by the women of the community. They toured shoreline spots where the women have planted 10,000 mangrove seedlings and, on the path that circles the village, 12,000 other tree seedlings to provide shade and fruit.

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November 2015

After receiving the first installment of Seacology funding, this well-organized community quickly bought building materials and began construction of the community center. They have also planted 2,000 mangroves and 3,000 other tree seedlings in and around Berhampur Island village. An ecology club has been formed in the village school, and 50 youth have participated in the “Save Chilika Lake” campaign, teaching tourists and boat operators not to throw plastic bags in the lake to attract dolphins.

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