Apple on Thursday announced that it has partnered with Pune-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF), to conserve a 2,400 hectare mangrove ecosystem in the Raigad district in Maharashtra. The company has granted an undisclosed grant to the biodiversity conservation NGO, which will help the latter work with local communities around this mangrove forest.
Through this work, AERF will sign conservation agreements with members of the local community, and offer support to help protect the ecosystem. It will also partner with Conservation International in order to verify the climate benefits of the mangrove forest, and harvest carbon benefits within the region.
The initiative is part of Apple’s $200 million Restore Fund announced in April 2021. The Fund will make investments in forestry projects around the world, with an eventual goal of removing 1 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The goal is a part of the company’s overall mandate to reach 100% carbon neutrality by 2030. Within this goal, Apple said last year that 75% of the carbon emissions would be ‘directly’ eliminated from its supply chain, while the remaining 25% would be accounted for by the Restore Fund.
During the announcement of the Fund, Apple had also stated that its manufacturing partners, including those that assemble its iPhones in India, have already pledged net carbon neutrality by 2030.
Archana Godbole, director of AERF, said that the initiative will help the organisation’s volunteers and local communities understand the importance of ‘blue carbon’. The latter refers to carbon that is absorbed by Earth’s oceans and coastal ecosystems.
Lisa Jackson, vice-president of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple, also said that the restoration and conservation project will also help the local coastal communities reap economic benefits from the mangrove ecosystem, alongside reinforcing the benefits of carbon absorption within this mangrove belt.
As part of its efforts, the grant will also be used by AERF to restore a 50 hectare area of the mangrove forest that has been degraded. Portable bio-stoves will also be distributed within the local communities to prevent cutting down of mangrove trees while foraging for firewood.