Hope you have been keeping well!
Today’s updates are from the Kannur district of Kerala. In this region we have been running a mangrove restoration project. The project aims to ensure the survival of existing mangroves and increase the acreage of such coastal wetlands across Kannur, potentially making it a prototype for other coastal districts in Kerala and rest of the country.
Mangrove forests are unique ecosystems, extremely rich in biodiversity, growing along inter-tidal coastal habitats such as shorelines, estuaries and backwaters. They also act as barriers against cyclones and tsunamis, prevent coastal erosion, and maintain inland water quality by preventing sea water intrusion.
However, mangrove forests have faced considerable destruction the world over, with less than half of the original acreage remaining. The acreage of mangroves in Kerala has also reduced drastically over the years, with only 1750 hectares of an estimated historical 70,000 hectares remaining. Conversion into coconut plantations or other agricultural land, aquaculture, unscientific water regulation, population pressures, real estate development, inadequate enforcement of laws, etc have all contributed towards mangrove destruction.
Kannur has 7.55 sq km of mangroves, i.e. around 45% of Kerala’s total mangrove forest cover. Nearly 90% of these forests are under private ownership and are therefore highly threatened. WTI therefore, with support from the international NGO World Land Trust, secured a parcel of mangrove land in the region. The project is based in ‘Kunhimangalam’ village, which is one of the largest mangrove villages in Kerala.
The land secured has been used to establish a Mangrove Interpretation Centre, located in the natural ecosystem, for mangrove-based research and education, and the promotion of mangrove restoration through community and government participation. A mangrove nursery has also been established and community-based initiatives launched to enhance public awareness and reduce threats to mangroves. Special efforts are being made to generate scientific interest about mangroves among the youth.
The local community has a very important role in this project, and are important stakeholders in the protection of the mangroves. In times of the pandemic, we distributed 5000 masks to the people of ‘Kunhimangalam’ village. Activities like this help us build trust among the people.
We would like to thank you for your support and trust. We shall keep sending you similar updates. Till then, stay safe and take care.