Creating harmony in nature

A fundamental belief in harmonious co-existence with nature drives Tata Chemicals’ varied initiatives to secure the rich-with-life coastal ecosystem

With over 80 years of existence on the Gujarat coastline, Tata Chemicals has taken on the mandate of conserving and preserving local flora and fauna. Biodiversity conservation programmes help protect various species of animals and plants, and create conditions for them to flourish. We drive three large initiatives to rejuvenate natural ecosystems and nurture our fellow denizens. And our extended Tata Chemicals family – employees, family members, even ex-employees – volunteer thousands of hours every year to protect biodiversity.

Preserving the mangroves


Mangroves are critical for aquatic breeding and bird nesting. They also form a bulwark against coastal erosion. At Mithapur in Gujarat and Sundarbans in West Bengal, we work with local communities for mangrove conservation and regeneration.

Our plant at Mithapur is located in the coastal zone of the Arabian sea. To strengthen the coastal ecosystems, we undertook a mangrove plantation project at Rukshmani Creek near Dwarka, approximately 20 km from Mithapur.

The project started in 2010 in partnership with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) under its Mangroves For Future (MFF) programme. It works to restore the original mangrove cover to improve coastal ecology and provide roosting and nesting sites for aquatic birds. The adoption of modern concepts such as the high-density plantation method has ensured the project's success.

Similarly, in the species-rich Sundarbans, in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas, we are working to restore the mangroves, along with the Tagore Society of Rural Development and GrowTrees.

In both locations, Tata Chemicals has emphasised creating livelihood opportunities for local communities through the conservation project. Teams of local women and youngsters have been trained for mangrove nursery management and seedling transplantation. This community engagement has been central to the project's success.

The impact

  • Land under mangrove restoration: Mithapur: 50+ acres; Sundarbans: approx. 270 acres
  • Increase in bird species from 9 to 33 in Mithapur
  • New species sighted — the Clamorous Reed Warbler at Mithapur in 2019
  • Over 618,000 mangrove saplings planted at Sundarbans with a survival rate of about 89%
  • Improvement of wildlife habitat, especially for the Sunderban tiger

Restoring the coral reefs


Our Mithapur plant is located near the Gulf of Kutch Marine National Park that shelters coral reefs and is a biodiversity hotspot. The Mithapur coral reef, located less than two km from our chemical plant, is the location for our unique coral reef restoration project. Our conservation efforts here include mapping of reef boundaries and biodiversity, raising of a coral nursery, setting up of protocols for long-distance coral transportation from Lakshadweep, monitoring of coral growth and marine biodiversity, and transplantation of coral species into sparsely populated reef areas.

The project started in 2008 as a joint venture with the Wildlife Trust of India and the Gujarat State Forest Department. A Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) and a Governing Council (GC) were formed to provide direction and guidance on project activities.

For the first few years, the initiative focused on mapping the biodiversity and the boundary of the Mithapur coral reef. In 2014, we made the first-of-its-kind attempt to move delicate live coral fragments over a distance of more than 1,200 km from the Lakshadweep Islands to the Mithapur reef. Since 2014, we have been growing and restoring Mithapur’s coral reef. We also engage with local fisher communities to sensitise them about the importance of coral reefs in supporting fish breeding.

The impact

  • Live coral cover increasing steadily, up from 12% in 2008 to 16% in 2018
  • Over 3,140 sq. metres of underwater artificial reef structures have been created
  • Fish catch up five-fold from approx. 0.6 kg to over 3.0 kg per hour
  • Marine diversity up from 55 species in 2010 to 64 species in 2020
  • 63 species of molluscs and 12 species of seaweed recorded
  • Rare species sighted: Seahorse and Starry Pufferfish

Rebuilding the forest ecosystem


Mithapur is also home to a unique biodiversity reserve plantation project that aims to conserve local strains of native flora, especially threatened species, by creating a botanical reserve.

The indigenous flora of the Okhamandal region near our plant site has been threatened by the rampant spread of invasive weeds that has brought some of the native flora species to the verge of extinction and adversely impacted the region's wildlife. To create a safe sanctuary for the region's flora and fauna, we undertook a project to restore a 150 acre (60 hectares) open scrub forest ecosystem in Okhamandal by converting it into a botanical reserve. Project activities included site clearance, land development, barbed wire fencing, development of a plant nursery, plantation, irrigation and maintenance, etc. In 2014, we started developing microhabitats to suit different plots and pockets of land with varied physical characteristics, such as the undulating coastal dunes and the grassland patches.

The sanctuary, envisaged as a reserve for native flora biodiversity, was designed to provide a habitat for local wildlife, including the pollinator populations that are vital for sustaining the local farm-based economy. The sanctuary also acts as a secure seed bank for native flora species.

Over 10,000 people, including students, teachers, volunteers and community members, have attended biodiversity awareness sessions and field training.

The impact

  • 150-acre spread of the open scrub forest ecosystem in Mithapur.
  • Home to 140 flora species, 105 types of birds and 20 types of animals
  • Birds include 11 species of raptors, including some endangered ones
  • Wildlife present:
    • Neelgai (Indian Blue Bull)
    • Barn owl
    • Spotted owlet
    • Jackal
    • Striped hyena
    • Indian leopard (a recurrent visitor)
  • Endangered species sighted:
    • Star tortoise
    • Eurasian Marsh Harrier
    • Indian Pangolin
    • Macqueen’s bustard