This eco movement in Kerala stresses the importance of mangroves
Kannur Kandal Project is the best example of a community effort taking shape as a full-fledged conservation venture. As the programme celebrates one year of its awareness initiative in and around Turuthi region—located in Kunhimangalam in Kannur district—it sure owes much to neighbourhood activists who realised the importance of mangrove preservation.
“The public started realising the importance of mangroves after the devastating tsunami in 2004. This is when a few local nature enthusiasts approached Wildlife Trust of India to conserve this dangerously receding ecosystem,” says field officer Ramith M, who leads the operations from the site supported by Apollo Tyres. Busy setting up an infrastructure in place in the past year, the office on the outskirts of Payyanur plans to aid the unhindered proliferation of one of the largest extant mangroves in the state.
With educational institutions having reopened after the summer holidays, the site is buzzing with activity. “The new generation has a lifestyle which has detached them from nature and this even has a psychological significance. The change that we witness in children after a single mangrove walk is astounding,” explains Ramith, who believes that awareness among the millennials is the most responsive factor in returning the tropical habitats to their former glory. Students have also become active members in conservative measures with six science graduates having completed their research work at the establishment.
Statistics point out that human activities like shrimp farming reduced the once 70,000 hectares of coastal greenery to a mere 1,750 hectares in Kerala. As a first step, the project currently handles close to 20 acres, and focusses on planting diverse species. “We’ve managed to grow 10 out of 17 native varieties, including the rare Upriver Orange Mangrove and Black Mangrove,” says the 30-year-old zoologist, expressing hope that local collectives will take up the challenge, especially in places like Kochi where urbanisation has destroyed vast expanses of the coastal ecosystem.