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Integrated approach to ecosystem restoration through incentivized models for Kerala

SUSTERA Foundation and Purpose Climate Lab launched report on "Incentive-Based Ecosystem Restoration
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As part of World Wetland Day, SUSTERA Foundation and Purpose Climate Lab launched
a report on "Incentive-Based Ecosystem Restoration."  The document, which focuses on building Resilience for Kerala, was released online on World Wetland day during an online event, where the outcome of the document was presented.
The report comes at a point where the health of the earth, the well-being of humans, and universal economic prosperity all depend on biodiversity. The loss of the ecosystems’ ability to recover from degradation is increasing the vulnerability to disasters.
While there are several frameworks in Kerala to keep environmental degradation and destruction in check, their findings and deliberations suggest that the state will benefit from an integrated approach to ecosystem restoration through incentivized models that focus on job creation. Identifying ways to incentivize restoration efforts for local communities can increase the number of green jobs and create resilient livelihoods. According to the State of Finance for Nature 2021 Report, approximately 20 million jobs will be created by tripling investments in NbS by 2030 to achieve climate change mitigation, biodiversity, and land restoration goals.
The document outlined how local self-government institutions and community members can facilitate the development of efficient and effective incentive-based models for ecosystem restoration with the help of grassroots organizations, practitioners, and the  education system in the state. While Ecosystem restoration will improve resilience to climate-related disasters, job creation will help build resilient communities.

Some important outcomes of the document:

  • Large-scale ecosystem restoration is key in limiting climate change and species extinction.Thus, the need of the hour is to build a pathway valuing conservation and restoration to recover degrading ecosystems. 
  • Ecosystem restoration and nature-based solutions should be a key agenda for the state in its development trajectory.Incentive-based ecorestoration can create jobs, improve resilience, enhance food security, and contribute to global mitigation efforts.
  • Large-scale ecosystem restoration is key in limiting climate change and species extinction.
Thus, the need of the hour is to build a pathway valuing conservation and restoration to recover degrading ecosystems. Ecosystem restoration and nature-based solutions should be a key agenda for the state in its development trajectory.

Restoration approaches for Kerala

  • Restoration of Coastal biodiversity
  • Restoration of marine and aquatic ecosystem
  • Forest and landscape restoration
  • Agroforestry and conservation agriculture
  • Restoration of wetlands and watersheds
  • High mountain ecosystem restoration
The document was released after the Amrith Darohar and MISHTI scheme was announced in the union budget.

Incentive-based restoration proposals mentioned in the document

  • Income generation through agroforestry and conservation agriculture
  • Income generation through Mangrove restoration
  • Additional income generation through Ecotourism and restoration
  • Environment education and restoration incentives
  • Traditional restoration practices and incentives
  • Carbon credit and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Model-based on Self-government institution as the facilitator MGNREGS
  • Financial credit model based on Meenangadi Panchayat

Recommendations

  • Building capacities among the private property owners in conservation and restoration.
  • Encouraging research on the different ecosystems of Kerala to build public interest and citizen science.
  • Identifying best practices at the LSGI level and replicating them in other regions with modifications or scaling up to improve the impact is key to sustaining the benefits of such efforts.
  • Encouraging tourism with an emphasis on nature as natural and cultural heritage and encouraging agricultural tourism in collaboration with community partners to develop sustainable models of preserving crops, bringing services and products by the communities for the visitors.
  • Instituting an institutional mechanism with a bottom-up approach by creating committees with representatives from the local bodies and communities to distribute benefits sharing and resource use better. 
  • Including Climate change impact in education with an emphasis on opportunities for ecosystem restoration in the curriculum. Additionally, equipping Bhoomitra Sena Clubs with certification and integration into the local government efforts on eco-restoration. Expanding the scope of Economic valuation of ecosystem services under government institutions to encourage restoration efforts. 
  • Utilizing MGNREGA and state-specific schemes like Subhiksha Keralam, Kerala Tribal Plus, Jala Subhiksha, and One crore saplings to integrate eco-restoration efforts and employment generation through existing schemes.
  • Identify the demand and challenges related to eco-restoration and financing to develop banking schemes where live trees can be used as security to secure a loan.

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