Chilika Lagoon, India
Wetlands International conducted the monitoring and research, choosing the best flow regime. In this way, a very important lake for man and nature was managed in a sustainable way.
A million people live of this unique lagoon along the east coast of India. About 800,000 are farmers, the rest live from fishing. Yet this lagoon, so vital for people’s livelihoods and a hotspot for many rare and endangered species, is under increasing pressure.
Development has altered hydrological regimes and reduced biodiversity. Less water is now flowing into the lagoon, which causes saltwater to intrude and the lagoon mouth to choke. As a result, there has been less fish migration and therefore less catch for fishermen. In the end, people got poorer and are sometimes forced to migrate to other areas. Farmers too have suffered. The construction of embankments along rivers upstream just piped the water faster downstream. Floods are now much longer and agricultural production has much decreased. And in the dry season, the Narraj barrage upstream provides irrigation in the upstream area, but blocks water from coming downstream.
The Chilika Development Authority recently initiated a process of hydro-biological monitoring. Wetlands International conducted the monitoring and showed the vital relationship between water flow and the productivity of the lagoon. A further assessment identified four possible scenarios: four different flow regimes that to various degrees can help maintain environmental quality and economic benefits for the communities. These scenarios were the basis of further economic studies and extensive community consultations. A cost-benefit analysis showed the large monetary value of maintaining present flow levels and identified key strategies for the future.Wetlands International conducted the monitoring and research, choosing the best flow regime. In this way, a very important lake for man and nature was managed in a sustainable way.