Mr. N. Vasudevan, Chief Conservator-Forest, speaks about positive experience in working with the Biodiversity Programme

Mr. N. Vasudevan, Chief Conservator-Forest, Mangrove Cell, Government of Maharashtra, in conversation with GIZ on biodiversity, the upcoming interpretation centre and more…

GIZ’s Indo-German Biodiversity Programme has partnered with the Forest department, Government of Maharashtra, to support conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in select coastal areas in Maharashtra.

Mr. N. Vasudevan, Chief Conservator-Forests, heads the Mangrove Cell at the Forest department, and has been closely involved in the implementation of the project since inception. He wears his many hats of senior officer in the Indian Forest Service, marine biologist and keen theatre enthusiast with ease.

On the occasion of International Day for Biodiversity, he shared his thoughts on the significance of conserving biodiversity in a rapidly urbanising India and also on GIZ’s collaboration with his ministry, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change.

What has been your experience of the partnership with GIZ?

Working together with GIZ has been a very positive experience. The selection of Maharashtra is heartening, and the project has been moving fairly quickly. The project has brought to the forefront the significance of marine and protected areas. Through the Coastal & Marine Protected Areas project, we are contributing to a global agenda.

The selection of Thane creek, in particular, is unique. It supports a rich marine life of thousands of flamingos and other birds, apart from the fact that it is also a means of livelihoods for the communities who have been living there for generations.

I personally feel very confident about the success of this project, because of the collaboration with GIZ and its international expertise.

You are in charge of the Mangrove Cell in the country’s largest metropolis. How do you think you can balance development without destruction in your job?

It is quite possible. Mangroves are necessary for the survival of the urban population. They mitigate pollution and provide strong protection against floods. The tsunami of 2010 was a wake-up call to preserve mangroves. In Mumbai particularly, mangrove preservation has become an issue of public concern, post the 2008 floods. People are very aware now, and cooperate with us in our preservation efforts. I see no conflict between development and biodiversity.

The Marine Interpretation Centre is soon coming up at Airoli, as part of the collaboration between GIZ and the Forest department. What is the potential for this in Mumbai?

This will be a first in any metropolitan city in the country. There is a dearth of open spaces in Mumbai, and the interpretation centre is a boon for the city. It comes with co-benefit of a rich mangrove habitat and thriving avian life. In fact, in a vast urban city like Mumbai, it is the need of the hour, and definitely has very high potential of becoming a popular recreation spot for the locals as well for tourists.