WWD 2023: Some Positive India Wetlands Stories

In final part of annual World Wetlands Day overview, SANDRP highlights ten positive actions, efforts made by local communities, citizens groups for protection and conservation of wetlands in India in 2022. In earlier parts of the series, SANDRP has covered the general scenarios of wetlands (Part 1); steps taken by various governments (Part 2); judicial interventions (Part 3) and status of some of the Ramsar wetlands sites in the country (Part 4).

1. Mumbai Greens secure 7 ha wetland from extinction due to landfill Environmentalists from the city said that they succeeded in securing a nearly 7 ha wetland that was facing extinction due to landfill. It was part of a 10-ha wetland at Sector 36 and a portion of which was already reclaimed by CIDCO for creating a housing society called Valley Ship. As truckloads of the soil were being dumped on the banks of the wetland, environmentalists raised an alarm and NatConnect Foundation sent an SOS to the MOEFCC, the CM and the High Court-appointed Wetlands Committee. “With collective action, CIDCO executive engineer Girish Raghuvamshi inspected the area with environmentalists and assured that the pond would be protected,” said NatConnect director B N Kumar. The landfill would be confined to an already plotted area by CIDCO, Raghuvamshi assured the green activists.

Green groups and CIDCO officials at Kharghar wetland, now being saved thanks to activists raising an alarm. FPJ Dec. 2022.

The officials agreed to the suggestion to barricade the wetland to prevent any further encroachment. Nadkarni said CIDCO must put up sign boards to prevent debris and garbage being dumped into the wetlands at Sectors 16, 17, 25 & 27. Nareshchandra Singh asked CIDCO to have the waterbody cleaned as a vast stretch of weeds is affecting its health. “This is not a monsoon water body, we have been seeing water here all round the year,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, MOEFCC responded to NatConnect’s complaint and asked the State Environment dept to act. CM Eknath Shinde instructed the Urban development dept Principal Secretary Bhushan Gargrani to look into the issue as NatConnect complained that the perennial water body, listed in the National Wetland Atlas, faces extinction thanks to continuous burial by CIDCO. https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/navi-mumbai-environmental-groups-secure-seven-hectare-wetland-from-extinction-due-to-landfill  (31 Dec. 2022)

Green join hands for first flamingo festival on May 14 Celebrating the World Migratory Bird Day (WBMD) on May 14, a group of environment groups have joined hands to hold the city’s first ever Flamingo Festival. WBMD is a twice-a-year awareness-raising campaign held on the second week-ends of May and September highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. It has a global outreach and is an effective tool to help raise global awareness of the threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and the need for international cooperation to conserve them, the WBMD website said. https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/navi-mumbai-environmentalist-join-hands-for-citys-first-flamingo-festival-on-may-14  (07 May 2022)

Green groups ask PM to save all atlas-listed wetlands Stating that PM Modi’s plan of building 75 lakes in each district, as a 75th year of Independence endeavour is grossly inadequate, green groups have requested him to at least quadruple the target to save all wetlands — atlas-listed water bodies. The National Decadal Change Atlas has recently identified 2,31,195 wetlands across the country & if they are divided by the country’s 765 districts, the figure works out to 300, NatConnect Foundation said in its message to the PM.

“The water bodies are already existing and we do not have to make fresh efforts to construct them,” NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar said and appealed to Modi: “Let us just preserve and conserve them. Thus, the PM could easily raise the bar four-fold and reset the target,” it said. Kumar said the govt could divide all the 2.3 lakh wetlands into parcels of 75 each, to retain the idea of Aazadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav as desired by the PM, and task the officials and people to conserve them. The wetlands are disappearing under the guise of urban & infrastructure development, he said. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/green-groups-ask-pm-to-save-all-atlas-listed-wetlands-1103955.html  (25 April 2022)

2. Chennai A handbook on wetlands restoration launched In an effort to reach out to various stakeholders on scientific rejuvenation of wetlands, Care Earth Trust & Okapi Research & Advisory recently brought out a comprehensive handbook on Wetlands Restoration — Learnings from Chennai. It would serve as a comprehensive guide from important technical steps to post implementation management. The handbook would provide overview on wetlands, methods of scientific restoration and ways for sustaining the initiative in the long run. Interspersed with illustration and maps, the 106-page document speaks about topics including legal and regulatory provisions for protection, monitoring & evaluation. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/a-handbook-on-wetlands-restoration-launched-to-encourage-scientific-conservation/article66263356.ece (14 Dec 2022)

3. West Bengal Bhagirath Prayas Samman (BPS) Award 2022 to SCOPE-Kolkata The citation from the India Rivers Forum for the BPS award 2022 in organisation category (see the photo of full citation below) to Society for Creative Opportunities and Participatory Ecosystems (SCOPE-Kolkata) said, among other things: “Founded by the late Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, known as the ecologist of the poor, SCOPE (Kolkata) has been fighting for decades to save this ecosystem from encroachment and destruction. It successfully stopped and challenged a number of projects that would have adversely affected an ecosystem vital to local livelihoods and to the sustainable management of urban waste. It has educated, engaged, and empowered people to work for the protection of these wetlands. Through public awareness campaigns, helping the affected people in public interest litigation, partnering with government agencies, it has defended and championed a remarkable model of social and ecological well-being, an exemplar of community-based knowledge and action. It is our honour to recognise the heroic efforts of SCOPE (Kolkata) to protect the East Kolkata Wetlands in West Bengal. It is an inspiring example of how Indian cities can live sustainably with riverine ecologies and the communities who depend on them.”

Dhruba Das Gupta, in acceptance speech said they have been striving to show that East Kolkata Wetlands provides an example of viable and community oriented model for sewage treatment and for keeping the rivers clean. This is the message we carry all through our work. Our core emphasis is on empowering the community, who has worked for over a hundred years to keep this system alive. This was a brackish water system earlier and was transformed to a sewage fed system with some remarkable engineering over a hundred years ago. The fundamental message that Dr Ghosh used to give was living creatively with the nature. This award energises us to do more and to keep on connecting wetlands and rivers. https://sandrp.in/2022/11/29/india-rivers-forum-jury-announces-bhagirath-prayas-samman-2022-awards-to-scope-kol-venkatesh-dutta-anupam-mishra-medal-2022-to-dheeraj-mishra/  (29 Nov. 2022)

A portrait of artist Nobina Gupta as an EKW soldier The drastic transformation of the East Kolkata Wetlands in the past few years has prompted an artist to use her interdisciplinary art practice to spread awareness about its importance and bring city dwellers closer to the green space.

Nobina Gupta broke down the significance of the East Kolkata Wetlands into three main pointers. “The first is waste management as it handles a bulk of the city’s waste. The second is food production. Kolkata wouldn’t survive without the fresh fishes and vegetables we get here. Moreover, while there is no control over the fertilisers in the food we import from other places, wetlands are an organic treatment plant existing just beside us. They even treat the waste water organically, which goes into the Kulti river and becomes the basis for cultivating a variety of fishes. It is not just a waste management system, but a circular economy. Thirdly, this region is crucial for climate mitigation. The East Kolkata Wetlands are the second buffer zone to Kolkata after the Sunderbans and are the reason why we have remained stable in response to so many cyclones. If we don’t take care of this region, the air we breathe will drastically degrade,” she explained.

Gupta at the Wake up to the Wetlands Trail.. Telegraph India.

Gupta’s work in the East Kolkata Wetlands centres around its community. Terming it as a perpetual ‘work in progress’, Gupta shared that her vision is for the community to feel valued for their services and the work that they do and for society to recognise the lives they lead.  “All over the world, there are many practices which are as recent as our grandparent’s generation, but have been lost. Luckily, many such practices still exist in India, and my work in the Wetlands made me realise that every corner and village has something valuable.” The stark contrast between our lives and theirs is powerful enough to highlight the problem. https://www.telegraphindia.com/my-kolkata/places/a-portrait-of-visva-bharati-passout-artist-nobina-gupta-as-an-east-kolkata-wetlands-soldier/cid/1907808  (04 Jan. 2023)

4. Jammu & Kashmir Community efforts to revive Khushal Sar Lake More than a year-long effort to remove about 1,350 trucks of muck, silt and plastic waste from Khushal Sar lake in Srinagar–a herculean task accomplished by city locals–has given the previously polluted waterbody a new lease of life, and restored optimism in community efforts for environmental conservation. At the helm of this lake restoration initiative is a local non-government organisation, the Nigeen Lake Conservation Organisation (NLCO), which began this campaign under ‘Mission Ehsaas’ in Feb 2021. Subsequently, volunteers & the dist administration joined the effort.

The revival of Khushal Sar is a ray of hope for the region’s lakes, important not just for conserving the ecology but also its resident’s livelihoods. More needs to be done, such as the implementation of stronger lake and wetland conservation policies, and installing new sewage treatment plants, to keep the lake clean, experts say.

Manzoor Ahmad Wangnoo, chairman of the NLCO travelled in a shikara in Khushal Sar on June 15, 2022. When 65-year-old Wangnoo began restoring the lake with the help of his 3 cousins, many mocked him as several others had failed to resuscitate the lake. “After the initial 10 days, people slowly started joining us. At present, we have a team of 30 volunteers & record participation of many others.” https://www.indiaspend.com/jammu-kashmir/community-driven-initiatives-show-way-forward-for-reviving-kashmirs-polluted-lakes-830654 (15 Aug 2022)

5. Karnataka Know all about wetlands, at IISc The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) will organize 13th biennial lake symposium during Dec 28-30 to discuss various aspects of ecosystem and wetland conservation. Children from 45 schools and 60 higher educational institutions will take part in the symposium.  The symposium will also discuss research gaps and activities to be initiated by researchers to evolve appropriate strategies towards the conservation of ecosystems in Western Ghats, assess the present status and conservation aspects of the ecosystem and will look at current initiatives of the conservation and management of ecosystems. This is a biannual symposium that started in 1998 and includes deliberation between national and international experts. But the uniqueness is the participation of school & college students. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/others/know-all-about-wetlands-at-iisc/articleshow/96488093.cms  (25 Dec. 2022)

Wetlands provide benefits worth Rs 284 billion annually: IISc expert Dr T V Ramachandra, faculty at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), on Dec 28 2022 said that the total wetland area in Karnataka stands at 2,81,299.5 ha and the benefits which it provides to the people has an economic value of Rs 284.52 billion.

Dr T V Ramachandra was speaking at the 13th International Biennial Lake Symposium organised by Energy and Wetlands Group, IISc. (Express Photo)

Speaking at the 13th International Biennial Lake Symposium organised by Energy and Wetlands Group, IISc, he explained, “The services of wetlands can be divided into three categories. 1 provisioning services which include fishing, fodder etc which sustains the local livelihood. 2 regulating services including groundwater recharge and bioremediation 3 cultural services which include recreation.” https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/wetlands-karnataka-benefits-iisc-expert-8349216/  (29 Dec. 2022)

6.. Tamil Nadu 2 IAS officers pool funds to save wetlands, waterbodies Two young IAS officers serving as collectors in Tirunelveli and Tiruvallur are trying to reverse the trend and protect the remaining wetlands in their dists with innovative approaches like active citizen volunteering. A couple of months ago, Tirunelveli Collector V Vishnu launched a first-of-its-kind initiative called ‘Nellai Digital Water Atlas’ to document and map all the waterbodies in the dist. “We mapped 1,200 plus water bodies or wetlands and published the data in nellaineervalam.in, on which the public can track the implementation of waterbody-related projects. Tirunelveli is the first district to do it,” he said.

In Tiruvallur, Collector Alby John is launching an initiative called Oor Koodi Oorani Kappom. The project aims to rejuvenate 75 waterbodies this year with 100 per cent funding and support from industries, NGOs & the public. “We have already identified the 75 waterbodies. On June 4, 2022, we will initiate bund construction & other restoration activities in 30 lakes” he said. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2022/jun/05/two-ias-officers-in-tamil-nadu-inspire-people-pool-funds-to-save-wetlands-and-waterbodies-2461936.html (5 Jun 2022)

80 wetlands worth Rs 17,000cr a year: Study The Tamil Nadu State Wetland Authority, formed to oversee more than 42,000 wetlands in the state, decided to put a value to 141 prioritised wetlands. Researchers from the Madras Institute of Development Studies studied 80 wetlands in phase I over three years and concluded that they are worth Rs 4,386.6 crore per annum. The report, submitted recently, also said that if these 80 wetlands are restored to full capacity, the services they provide would be worth Rs 17,467.9 cr/annum.

MIDS researchers said a lake’s worth can be calculated based on the direct and indirect services it offers. For instance, Pulicat lake alone provides economic services worth Rs 1,133 crore a year. This includes the value of direct services such as fish, fuel, genetic materials and fresh water that people use. Indirect services are its role in regulating erosion, pollution and the water table. Cultural services are its role in recreational activity and aesthetics, and in nutrient cycling. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/tamil-nadu-wetlands-worth-rs-17000-crore-a-year-says-study/articleshow/90553951.cms  (31 March 2022)

Anna University to study carbon content in wetland sediments The govt has roped in the Centre for Environmental Studies of the Anna University to conduct “sediment analysis” of 100 wetlands in the State, the Additional Principal Chief Conservator & Member Secretary, Tamil Nadu State Wetlands Authority, Deepak Srivastava said on Nov 15 2022. Speaking at the release of a report on the restoration of the Sembakkam lake in Chennai, Srivastava said that Tamil Nadu wanted to “see what is there in the soil and sediments” in the State’s wetlands. The report was prepared by the environmental advocacy body The Nature Conservancy.

The Sembakkam lake, also known as Hastinapuram lake, is a manmade wetland forming part of 34 network of wetlands connected through the cascading system of seven lakes to the Pallikaaranai marshland in Chennai. Photo Credit: G Krishnaswamy/ The Hindustan Business Line

The study would reveal how much of carbon dioxide, methane & nitrous oxide lie embedded in soil & sediments. “We don’t have data on how much carbon is stored in the soil & sediments,” Srivastava said. Armed with data from the study, whenever restoration work such as that of the Sembakkam lake happens, TN would “tap the carbon credit market”, he said. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/tamil-nadu-ropes-in-anna-university-to-study-carbon-content-in-wetland-sediments/article66143255.ece  (16 Nov. 2022)

7. Kerala Saving wetlands Alappuzha, Kerala town along the Vembanad wetland located on one of the world’s most polluted lakes is spearheading a drive to conserve the wetlands it relies on for survival – and that thousands of species call home. Women here are trained to make cloth bags from old clothes to use in place of plastic bags. People of Muhamma village with population of 25000 is being trained to become a model lake village since 2016 by ATREE. The lake protection project continues even though the funding for the project ended in 2020. https://www.dw.com/en/backwater-beauty-saving-keralas-wetlands/video-63879022  (25 Nov. 2022)

NGO action against filling of wetland Environmental organisations are stepping up pressure on the govt to adopt stringent measures to stop reckless filling of wetlands for business ventures at Lakkidi, a highly ecologically fragile area in Wayanad. In a letter to CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samiti secretary Thomas Ambalavayal said that a private individual had constructed a vehicle parking area near the “En Uru” tribal heritage village project at Thalippuzha near Lakkidi by allegedly filling a wetland in contravention of the Kerala Paddy Land and Wetlands Conservation Act.

The parking ground, on around 1 acre of land, beside the Kozhikode-Kollegal NH-766, was constructed after bulldozing a nearby hillock and blocking the flow of two rivulets on the catchment area of the Kabani River, Mr. Thomas alleged. The rivulets were demarcated in the village records of the Kunnathidavaka village in Vythiri taluk. The bulldozing of the hillock was posing a serious threat to the houses of tribespeople on the hill top, he added. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/greens-seek-action-against-filling-of-wetland-in-wayanad/article66226832.ece  (06 Dec. 2022)

Mangrove nursery comes up in Kozhikode to help protect wetlands There was a time when the Kottooly wetlands in the heart of Kozhikode city could boast of at least seven different varieties of mangroves. But now, the mangrove forest here is depleting, despite it being under the Coastal Regulation Zone. The newly set up mangrove nursery in Sarovaram Biopark is a tiny step towards preventing the depletion of mangroves from the ecologically sensitive region.

Students of LISSAH College, Kaithappoyil, planting mangrove saplings in Kottooli wetlands as part of setting up a magrove nursery, under the Paristhithikam eco-rejuvenation programme in Kozhikode recently. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT/ The Hindu

The mangrove nursery was set up under ‘Paristhithikam’, an ecosystem rejuvenation programme, being organised by the Directorate of Environment & Climate Change of the Govt of Kerala through Darshanam Samskarika Vedi in the district. The first task under the programme, clearing the wetlands of plastic waste and setting up the nursery, was undertaken on April 20 2022 with the help of the National Service Scheme volunteers of LISSAH College, Kaithappoyil. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/mangrove-nursery-comes-up-in-kozhikode-to-help-protect-wetlands/article65345270.ece  (23 April 2022)

8. Rajasthan Udaipur’s ‘bird village’ set to be declared wetland Recognised as the “bird village” following community-driven conservation efforts, Menar is set to be notified as new wetland. The villagers in Menar, situated 45 km away from Udaipur, have built a healthy ecosystem for birds during the last four years with activities such as patrolling, rescue of injured birds and reporting any attempts for poaching. Menar sarpanch Pramod Kumar Dholi said that the volunteers known as Pakshi Mitras (friends of birds) were maintaining the lakes as a safe haven for birds.

Mr. Dholi said the villagers had stopped using water from the lakes for irrigation and started regular weeding to get rid of water hyacinth, while the panchayat had prohibited fishing in the water bodies. “When the water level declines in summer, we fill the lakes with water through tankers for saving the fish and birds. Pakshi Mitras have also taken up development of pastures near these reservoirs,” he said.

With a rich history connecting it closely with the erstwhile rulers of Mewar, Menar has come on the radar of birdwatchers in the State because of the villagers’ conservation initiative. Umesh Menaria, a local volunteer, said the undisturbed environs of the lakes would be a great attraction for experts and researchers to study the behaviour of birds and find out their migration routes. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/udaipurs-bird-village-set-to-be-declared-wetland/article65563912.ece  (25 June 2022)

9. Odisha Mangalajodi wetland, youth strive to build a healthier ecosystem Over the years, the Mangalajodi wetland, an important bird area, has been exposed to changing environmental conditions, impacting the livelihood opportunities of the local people. The dearth of livelihood options has forced youth from the region to migrate to other cities for work, especially during the summer months when the tourist inflow is low.

The Youth4Water campaign has mobilised the local youth and is skilling them towards conservation of the wetland. Photo by Tazeen Qureshy/ Mongabay India.

Strengthening the wetland ecosystem and providing income opportunities to the local communities are emerging avenues to address the challenges. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/08/in-odishas-mangalajodi-wetland-youth-strive-to-build-a-healthier-ecosystem-and-generate-livelihoods/  (26 Aug. 2022)

Local fishers, villagers help conduct the world’s first fishing cat census in Chilika Lake; 176 fishing cats reported. https://www.gaonconnection.com/lead-stories/odisha-fishing-cat-wildlife-environment-chilika-lake-wetland-50880   (07 June 2022)

10. Uttar Pradesh Hulas Khera wetland in Lucknow to be ecologically restored  The Hulas Khera wetland (also known as Karela Jheel) in Lucknow’s Mohanlalganj tehsil will be ecologically restored and developed as a community reserve. A learning visit to prepare the plan was organised by the forest department in partnership with the department of environmental Science, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) and WaterAid, India. The restoration project would be undertaken by the forest department with the assistance and inputs from BBAU and the local community. Walking trails, boating and other attractions would be also added for birders and nature enthusiasts.

Talking about the geological history of the landscape, Prof Venkatesh Dutta of BBAU said the wetland was once a part of the Sai river system, which changed its course leaving the oxbow lake of around 125 acres. The area became an ecological hot spot for birds and aquatic animals. Later, due to land use changes & farming activities, some parts of this wetland were lost. He emphasised the need of making this wetland a community reserve & water sanctuary for protection. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/hulas-khera-wetland-in-lucknow-s-mohanlalganj-to-be-ecologically-restored-101643820419999.html (2 Feb 2022)

Other Wetlands Positive Reports from 2022

Video Science behind a constructed wetland to treat sewage Fresh water is very scarce, take a look at a natural ecosystems technique to purify raw black sewage water to clean water, using the system of constructed wetland.

No use of electricity or giant STP’s, mere use of gravity, plants and insects helps clean water. Watch it on Life in Science with Pallava Bagla on India Science channel. https://youtu.be/5_2l7FdAMyk (2 April 2022)

Study Recording mangrove damage from cyclones in Sundarbans In two separate studies, scientists have harnessed satellite images to capture changes in the Sundarbans mangroves and the shores that harbour them, following cyclones. Remote sensing using satellite images can help long-term monitoring and tracking changes in the health of such ecosystems. Eroding shorelines have different features that must be accounted for in mangrove forest management, say researchers. https://india.mongabay.com/2022/06/recording-mangrove-damage-from-cyclones-in-the-sundarbans/  (27 June 2022)

Report “Looking Back at My Guru “Professor Brij Gopal”: An Extraordinary Wetland Ecologist” by Somnath Bandyopadhyay, lead article in Feb 2022 (Vol 48 issue 1) issue of International Journal of Ecology and Environment Sciences. https://www.nieindia.org/Journal/index.php/ijees/issue/view/79 

The cat that is the soul of the wetlands Little is known of the fishing cat, an ‘umbrella species’ for wetlands, but conservationists are now trying to raise awareness—& count their numbers. https://lifestyle.livemint.com/news/big-story/the-cat-that-is-the-soul-of-the-wetlands-111651967790960.html  (08 May 2022)

5 stunning mangroves India has a very long coastline, shared by nine states and three Union Territories. Mangroves make these coastal areas a rich habitat for many species of flora and fauna. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/get-to-know-these-stunning-mangroves-in-india/photostory/91370236.cms  (06 May 2022)

Webinar on “Mangroves never die: yet, understanding their resilience, succession and restoration is critical” by  ENVIS_IISC with speaker: Dr Nehru Prabhakaran, DST-INSPIRE Faculty, WII. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztUcGm3tjxA  (04 Feb. 2022)

Interview ‘We must do everything we can to protect our wetlands’ A few recent reports suggest that the country has lost a large number of wetlands in the past couple of decades.

Manoj Misra, a former IFS officer who is now convener of ‘Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan’ spoke on various aspects of wetlands. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/wetlands-deserve-a-law-specifically-for-their-conservation-urbanisation-must-be-planned-around-them/articleshow/97010421.cms  (15 Jan. 2023)

Eco-Talk Traditions around wetlands will help conserve it “There are oral traditions around wetlands and in future, these could be a major driver in the conservation movement,” Ritesh Kumar, director, Wetlands International South Asia, Delhi, at an eco-talk on ‘Valuing wetlands-setting an agenda for transformative change’. Besides documenting the flora and fauna of wetlands, there is a need for people in the hinterlands to document the knowledge, practices, identities & relationships surrounding wetlands, for a holistic approach, Kumar said.

Goa State Biodiversity Board member secretary Pradip Sarmokadam said that on his visits to wetlands, he has often seen a small tomb, pictures of deities or a tree with flowers and a lamp which is an evidence of eco-systems being worshipped as a tradition. “People must visit their wetlands in groups and look for the changes that are happening – which should be a continuous process,” he said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/traditions-around-wetlands-will-help-conserve-it-expert/articleshow/89810754.cms  (25 Feb. 2022)

Documentary Assam: Remember Silsako Silsako is a wetland on the outskirts of Guwahati that has been dwindling in size because of haphazard development activities over the past few decades. The wetland in picture has been providing various sources of livelihoods for the people and many of them are still dependent on this resource.

With eviction drives that displace people and their homes, it also displaces hopes and aspirations. Climate change and mindless human activities surrounding the beel has reduced the life of this wetland. It has once again ignited the debate, whether development should take precedence over ecology and environment.  Silsako evokes a poignant memory and this film is an attempt to revisit a space that will determine the future of the city. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kdUcvT9CEM  (27 Oct. 2022)

SANDRP Blog Conserving wetlands to realize global climate and biodiversity goals Guest Article by Mridhu Tandon The Sudd wetland in the Nile basin is one of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystems. Nourished by the White Nile-a tributary of the Nile, Sudd is a mosaic of open water and submerged vegetation, seasonally inundated woodlands, rain-fed grasslands, and floodplain scrubland. An integral part of Africa’s largest intact savannahs-the Jonglei plains, Sudd supports the world’s second-largest mammal migration after Serengeti. An estimated 1.3 million antelope: white-eared kob, taing, and Mongalla gazelles move from Sudd every year to reach Ethiopia’s Gambella National Park. Sudd has been in the international news recently. Revival of the 40-year-old 240-mile Jonglei canal will divert the waters of the White Nile around the Sudd wetland and send it to Egypt. The canal will desiccate the wetland, and end seasonal flooding of the Jonglei grasslands. Why is it necessary to protect Sudd from drying up? Why has the subject received global attention? More generally, why protect wetlands at all? https://sandrp.in/2022/11/13/conserving-wetlands-to-realize-global-climate-and-biodiversity-goals/  (12 Nov. 2022)

COP 27 Mangrove Alliance for Climate At the 27th Session of Conference of Parties (COP27), this year’s UN climate summit, the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) was launched with India as a partner on Nov 8 2022. The move, in line with India’s goal to increase its carbon sink, will see New Delhi collaborating with Sri Lanka, Indonesia and other countries to preserve and restore the mangrove forests in the region. An initiative led by the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia, the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) includes India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan, and Spain. It seeks to educate and spread awareness worldwide on the role of mangroves in curbing global warming and its potential as a solution for climate change.

However, the intergovernmental alliance works on a voluntary basis which means that there are no real checks and balances to hold members accountable. Instead, the parties will decide their own commitments and deadlines regarding planting and restoring mangroves. The members will also share expertise and support each other in researching, managing and protecting coastal areas.

South Asia houses some of the most extensive areas of mangroves globally, while Indonesia hosts one-fifth of the overall amount. India holds around 3 percent of South Asia’s mangrove population. Besides the Sundarbans in West Bengal, the Andamans region, the Kachchh and Jamnagar areas in Gujarat too have substantial mangrove cover. However, infrastructure projects — industrial expansion and building of roads and railways, & natural processes — shifting coastlines, coastal erosion and storms, have resulted in a significant decrease in mangrove habitats.

Between 2010 and 2020, around 600 sq km of mangroves were lost of which more than 62% was due to direct human impacts, the Global Mangrove Alliance said in its 2022 report. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/what-is-the-mangrove-alliance-for-climate-which-india-joined-at-cop27-8261674/  (11 Nov. 2022)

UNEP Wetlands: the unsung heroes of the planet Improving management of wetlands brings health, food and water security benefits – critical to the health and livelihoods of 4 billion people reliant on wetlands’ services, says the Global Wetland Outlook. Under Sustainable Development Goal 6, Target 6, all countries are committed to protecting and restoring wetlands by 2030, and UNEP has a special role in helping to monitor and achieve that target. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/wetlands-unsung-heroes-planet  (01 Feb. 2022)

Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (bhim.sandrp@gmail.com)

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