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India

Wandoor Village

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Conservation benefit: Protection of four kilometers of coastline and 50 acres of forest for 10 years

Community benefit: Resource and ecotourism training center

Date Approved: 02.2020

Ecotourism

This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.

Forest

This project protects forest, preventing the release of greenhouse gases and reducing erosion that damages coastal and ocean ecosystems.

Mangroves

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

Ocean

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

Seagrass

This project protects seagrass, which traps more CO2 than any other marine ecosystem, slowing global warming.

Wandoor is a scenic village of 1,500 people on South Andaman Island, between Thailand and India. It is surrounded by extensive mangrove forests, littoral forests, rock and sand beaches, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs. Most people make a living by fishing or farming. As the sea level rises, however, brackish water has spoiled some farmland.

In the forests, there are many kinds of orchids, canes, and palms; mammals such as the Andaman palm civet; saltwater crocodiles, and king cobras. Dugongs and green sea turtles forage in the bays, and sea snakes nest in vegetation above the high tide line. The shallow water is a nursery for many kinds of fish, particularly sharks and rays.

Some of the forest and marine areas are legally protected, on paper, but there is little protection on the ground. Under economic stress from declining fisheries and unprofitable farms, people cut mangroves and fish illegally.

A looming threat to this exceptional island is development for tourism. Current tourism plans ignore both the environment and the wishes of the local people. Unless the community can protect its habitats and livelihoods, development will bring only low-paying jobs, pollution, and a loss of cultural integrity.

Village authorities will protect a four-kilometer stretch of coast. They will also protect and replant about 50 acres (20 hectares) of mangrove and littoral forest and organize regular beach clean-ups.

A Seacology grant is funding a new community center, where youth can get environmental education and training related to tourism. The Andaman Nicobar Environment Team will teach youth to be forest guides, fishing and snorkeling guides, dive operators, craft-makers, and more. This will let them take part in—and help shape—the coming tourist boom.

The center will use solar energy and will include simple cottages for program participants. Community members will build it in the local style, with local renewable resources.

Project Updates

June 2022

Foundation work on the new center is being done now. Our project partner got approval for two cubic meters of wood from the government sawmill, which was scheduled for delivery by the end of May. They will start building with that and try to get more wood as it becomes available. They are in the process of setting up a system to filter and purify pond water so it can be used for drinking and cooking.

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February 2022

Progress on this project has been stalled by the Covid-19 pandemic, including the illness of the head of our project partner in Port Blair. Because of the island’s isolation and poor medical infrastructure, restrictions were especially severe. The government delayed the issuance of required land-use permits. There is a cap on the amount of wood that can be purchased from the government-run sawmill, and our project partner is currently waiting for wood. Still, they have made significant progress. Flooring and foundation work on the new center was scheduled for January and February. They hope to install solar power by March.

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February 2021

Our project partners are working with village and higher-level officials to settle on a site for the new center. But because the pandemic has delayed elections for the village council, final decisions cannot be made. In the meantime, our project partner has worked to strengthen community engagement and capacity in the village. They acquired funding for a learning program for village students, a public health initiative, and a youth sports program. All of these programs will use the new center, so the community is eager to see it built.

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