The Gangtok Municipal Corporation (GMC) has approved the City Biodiversity Index, Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (LBSAP), and the Illustrated Natural Asset Map of Gangtok, developed by ICLEI South Asia as part of the INTERACT-Bio project.
Mr. Arun Upreti, Hon’ble Minister for Urban Development, Government of Sikkim, recently released the tools and map, which will help to mainstream biodiversity conservation into urban planning. The Illustrated Natural Asset Map will also help to increase public awareness of the significance of the urban biodiversity of the city. The INTERACT-Bio project is supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety, Germany, while the GMC is a project partner.
Gangtok is the second city in India to have developed a scientifically informed and participatory LBSAP, which is a tool with which local governments (the GMC in this case), their various departments, and the local community can work together to deliver continued action for biodiversity stewardship. The city has defined its LBSAP vision as to “develop a clean and eco-friendly safe city by emphasising on tourism and culture by 2021”. It has also identified five focus areas: maintenance of forests and the ecosystem services they provide; promotion of urban agriculture for urban food security; maintenance and expansion of green spaces and avenue plantations; conservation of water resources; and awareness-raising and capacity building. This LBSAP suggests appropriate actions, comprising of both soft and hard measures, to address the issues being faced in each of these focus areas.