Workshop Sets Stage for Noida’s Blueprint for Biodiversity Conservation

Championing urban sustainability and ecological health, Noida is nearing the completion of its Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (LBSAP) development process.

A key event of this journey was a workshop titled ‘Nature’s Benefits in Noida,’ held at Viceroy Hall, Hotel Eros in New Delhi on March 7, 2024. This workshop, led by ICLEI South Asia with the support of the HCL Foundation, focused on weaving ecosystem services into the urban planning and policy framework to promote a more resilient and environment-friendly future for the satellite city in the National Capital Region.

The development of the LBSAP is mandated by the Biological Diversity Act of 2002, which requires urban local bodies to establish an LBSAP to serve as the local counterpart to National and State Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans. The LBSAP development methodology entails undertaking detailed consultations with a wide array of stakeholders in order to identify the critical ecosystems, the services they provide, and the threats they are facing.

At this workshop, stakeholders from diverse sectors including academicians, non-governmental organisations, resident welfare associations, urban practitioners, architects, students, and subject matter experts, all congregated to evaluate the essential ecosystem services provided by the natural habitats within Noida. The discussions centred on the need to maintain and enrich these services to bolster urban sustainability. The LBSAP for Noida is set to be a blueprint that interlaces biodiversity conservation with the city’s core functions, paving the way for dedicated actions tailored to each ecosystem, under the stewardship of city authorities.

A set of exercises during the workshop were designed to identify and scope the services provided by critical ecosystems, establishing goals, and formulating action points. These activities also involved understanding the various influences on these ecosystems. Highlighting the urgency and necessity of the LBSAP to preserve Noida’s ecological diversity amidst urban development pressures, the exercises brought together varied groups and individuals, highlighting the community’s collective effort for key ecosystems such as the river Yamuna and its flood plains, avenue trees, agriculture, urban forests, parks and gardens, and the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. Each ecosystem was matched with potential threats such as pollution, plastic waste dumping, invasive species, flooding, deforestation, and urbanisation to name a few. 

Furthermore, a unified vision for Noida’s LBSAP was also crafted, demonstrating a collective ambition for a sustainable and ecologically diverse city.

The workshop served as a platform for finalising a list of critical ecosystems and formulating the vision for Noida’s LBSAP by validating previously compiled data, including the critical ecosystems of Noida mapped using global information system (GIS) technology to help the city plan and implement development activities without negatively impacting these crucial ecosystems. The action plan’s fruition is expected in the upcoming months.

The project also includes the development of the City Biodiversity Index and an Illustrated Natural Asset Map of Noida, along with ecosystem service assessments at two HCL Foundation supported restored sites: a restored urban forest and a restored wetland within the city. 

The commitment was further echoed through the emerging strategy that is rooted in more than just conservation; it’s about harmoniously blending the environment with urban landscape, ensuring ecological benefits are intricately interwoven with the fabric of the city’s growth.

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