Grant for developing Giant Clam species recovery plan

The U.K.-based Whitley Fund For Nature has decided to extend financial support to BNHS India’s marine biodiversity conservation programme in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Chief Operating Officer of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) Deepak Apte has been awarded the Continuation Funding grant for developing Giant Clam species recovery plan and identifying potential sites for marine conservation reserves in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The grant of £70,000 (about Rs. 63 lakh) was awarded to Dr. Apte recently after a rigorous review and discussion, for a two-year programme, according to BNHS spokesperson. Union Ministry of Environment and Forests also provided Rs. 27 lakh to BNHS for the Giant Clam studies.

Earlier, in 2008, Dr. Apte was honoured with the Whitley Conservation Award by Shears Foundation for outstanding work in the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) of Lakshadweep. The BNHS Andaman-Nicobar Programme starts off at an appropriate time and is in line with the “Aichi Targets” of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Incidentally India has two-year presidency for the CBD from Conference of Parties 11 (COP 11) that took place in October 2012 in Hyderabad, where conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity was designated a priority area.

A representative of Whitley Fund said they were happy to be a part of the BNHS plan to scale up the successful earlier MPA model to the Andaman and Nicobar islands and to create a national Giant Clam species recovery plan.

Under the Andaman-Nicobar Programme, BNHS aims to establish baseline data for Giant Clam population ecology as well as the establishment of profound understanding of the social fabric of these islands. This will be done by way of undertaking social and natural resource use mapping. Simultaneously, BNHS also aims to arrange national legal consultation to identify gaps in existing conservation reserve policies. This data will form strong scientific basis to be fed into the national species recovery plan for Giant Clam, an endangered species of clam found in the tropical coral reefs, including Indian waters. All the species of Giant Clam are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act.

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