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Trees for Biodiversity


Adopted by LTI for FY2018-19

Project Purpose
Trees for Biodiversity



The project was implemented in the Panchayat (local government)-owned lands in the catchment of the coastal Kaliveli wetlands and lagoons in Tamil Nadu close to Puducherry (Pondicherry)  comprising 10 villages namely, Kolathur, Komadipattu, Vada, Agaram, Marakkanam, Koonimedu, Kurumpuram, Vandipalayam, Oorani and Kodur of Villupuram district.


  • To secure and enhance the coastal habitat of Kaliveli region with the planting of native trees that will help improve the habitat for migratory and other birds
  • To promote nature-based tourism by restoring forests 
  • To create livelihood opportunities for the local communities

Flora & Fauna

(The following is an extract from BirdLife International (2018) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kaliveli Tank and Yeduyanthittu estuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/08/2018.)  

Kaliveli Tank is a semi-permanent, fresh to brackish water lagoon, which empties into the sea through a narrow channel connecting the tank with the Yedayanthittu Estuary to the northeast.  Yedayanthittu estuary lies about 3 km away....Until about 25 years ago, the entire region was heavily forested, but almost all the forest has been cleared, and the tank and estuary are now surrounded by cultivation and scrubby thorn woodland. 
Avifauna: The Tank and the estuary are extremely important staging and wintering areas for a wide variety of migratory waterfowl (Pieter 1987, Scott 1989).The area regularly holds over 30,000 ducks in winter; and 20,000-40,000 shorebirds and 20,000-50,000 terns during the migration period. Pieter (1987) noted about 40,000 birds in the Tank, and another 20,000 in the estuary.  In March and April, as the water level recedes, the lagoon attracts large congregations of pelicans, herons, egrets, storks and ibises. Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis is a regular visitor in flocks of 30-200 individuals, and Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber sometimes occurs in very large numbers. 
Other Key Fauna: The area was formerly heavily forested but now only fragments remain. An 18th century stone inscription found close to the tank showed a king hunting elephants in the surrounding forests! Now, only a few Golden Jackal Canis aureus and Black-naped Hare Lepus nigricollis remain.


The project involves plantation of 25,000 native tree saplings including of the following species - Agalia, Albizia, Atlantia, Bauhinia, Caryota, Delonix, Ficus, Garcinia, Terminalia, Wrightia among other native species. 

Expected Social Impact
Kaliveli is a seasonal wetland, with a gradient from freshwater to brackish water. The region is home to several rare, endemic and endangered floral and faunal species. The wetland is an important breeding and roosting ground for several key migratory birds including globally threatened and Near Threatened species. The wetland is considered of both national and international importance by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The major socio-environmental challenges in the region are from increased encroachment from agricultural fields, depletion of forests from changing land use pattern, loss of wildlife habitat and fragmentation, rapid soil erosion from surface runoff and increased deforestation. 

K Brahmananda Chari, a scientist who has studied the Kaliveli watershed area, says  "Planting of trees around Kaliveli would provide nesting habitat for waterbirds "

"Locating suitable nest trees and building large stick nests is a considerable task for birds during the breeding season....Additionally, of extreme importance is the protection of adjoining vegetation for nest security, roosting and perching of adult birds and fledglings and collection of nesting materials." (www.environment.nsw.gov.au)

This planting of trees will help reclamation of wasteland and degraded patches to forest land improving wildlife habitat, check soil erosion and reduce surface runoff. "The lake has been a feeding ground for the longest distance migrants from the cold subarctic regions of Central Asia and Siberia including Black-tailed Godwits, Eurasian Curlew, White Stork, Ruff, Dunlin" (www.thehindu.com). Securing and enhancing the habitat will attract tourists interested in birdwatching as well as scientific professionals which in turn will promote nature-based-tourism in the region bringing income to the doorsteps of the local residents. 

Moreover, the afforestation project would complement the National Mission for Green India (GIM)  which aims at protecting, restoring and enhancing diminishing forests taking the participatory approach with a key role of the locals in planning, decision making, implementation, and monitoring. 

The project implementation will generate about 2,050  to 2,250 workdays of jobs for local residents which encourages direct participation in conservation. When mature, these trees will absorb about 500,000 kilograms of atmospheric carbon every year.