Threat Based Conservation Intervention for Sustainability in Vembanad Socio Ecological System in the Times of Climate Change
CSR Project Funded by ANTRIX Corporation
Wetlands are areas "where water is the essential factor controlling the environment and the related plant, animal and human life." They represent around 6% of the global land region and are among the most debilitated of all ecological assets. The overutilization of the aggregate wetlands stock has resulted from a blend of financial development pressure, population growth data deficiency, and intervention decline. There is a lack of comprehensive studies related to threats to wetland ecosystems, especially in India.
Vembanad Estuarine System, along with adjoining Kole lands, is one of India's most critical wetlands designated as a Ramsar site in 2002. Despite many conservation interventions, Vembanad lacks specific and focused conservation efforts. There is a wide range of gap for the clear threat-based conservation studies about the Vembanad Kol wetland. Hence it is the need of time to introduce action-based participatory studies.
The project "Threat Based Conservation Intervention for sustainability in Vembanad Socio-Ecological system in the times of climate change" was designed to address some of the significant threats to the Vembanad ecosystem. The project focuses on six prominent threats the Vembanad ecosystem undergoes today, which includes
i) Lake pollution
ii) Lake reclamation
iii) Invasive species
iv) Unsustainable resource use
v) Climate change and
vi) Livelihood Enhancement
Activities Under this Project
Sustainable Menstrual hygiene
CERC work towards the promotion of sustainable and ecofriendly alternatives like menstrual cups and cloth pads to get rid of the crisis of sanitary waste and its management and to make the tag green. Awareness camps and workshops aims to educate the women and help to familiarize the sustainable alternatives and reach out to them. CERC s enthusiastic efforts will take Muhamma to crown the first ever sanitary pad free sustainable menstrual panchayat in the country and thereby spread this message all over the world.
Unsustainable Resource use
Awareness campaign on ‘Ethical fishing'
ATREE-CERC led classes on ‘Responsible fishing practices along with Dept of Fisheries, Government of Kerala
Nine awareness sessions covering 250+ fisherman and clam collectors in Vembanad and Ashtamudi
Canals around the Vembanad lake have become major waste dumping places for the people. ATREE and LPF have jointly started a canal rejuvenation campaign at Muhamma, to initiate participatory wetland conservation and spread awareness among stakeholders about the conservation of canals linked to Vembanad lake. As part of the campaign, CERC created six canal protection forums that have more than 400 members who are representatives of the fishing community, clam collectors, members of public libraries from Muhamma, local sports and art club representatives. With the help of these canal protection forums, we have rejuvenated 10 canals in Muhamma.
Incorporated swimming training as part of the disaster preparedness module of Jalapadam habitat learning program in schools around the Vembanad lake. Around 250+ students were benefited from this training program.
To bring down the indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides and ensure sustainable use of the resources, CERC equip the farmers in eco-friendly farming methods agriculture and farming activities must be based on an ecosystem approach. Therefore, the farmers must be made responsible to protect and preserve the existing resources and environment for future generation rather than exploiting it to meet their livelihoods.
Wet waste management using BSF larvae
ATREE-CERC has developed a low-cost BSFL Biopod for household organic waste management in Muhamma village, Alappuzha Black Soldier Flies Larvae (BSFL) or Hermetia illucens is one such novel technique that can prove to be a boon for a developing country like India. This technology can enable us to achieve a waste reduction of up to 80% by wet weight, thus reducing the costs for waste transport and landfill space requirement drastically.
Handmade paper from water hyacinth
The aquatic weed 'Water Hyacinth' has been causing trouble for the stakeholders of the lake as well as the system for many years. CERC tried to eradicate this menace by converting them into useful products. Handmade paper from Water Hyacinth was such an experiment. CERC also offered trainings for students of S.D college, Alappuzha and Amrutha university College, Kollam. With the help of women group from the Social Innovation Center CERC developed different types of handmade paper using this water weed in an experimental basis. Further R & D is still ongoing for improving quality of the products.
Disaster Preparedness Gramasabhas
The increasing events of climate change in recent years, especially the August 2018 deluge and its impacts has been an eye opener towards the necessity for disaster preparedness. In this backdrop CERC organized Disaster Preparedness Grama Sabhas for Nedumudi Grama panchayat, which was affected the most during the flood. Meetings and training sessions were conducted in each ward of the panchayat with resource persons from the district disaster Management authority. Leaflets and emergency kit was also distributed for the people. In addition to all this a mobile app was also developed and published for communicating disaster related information in local language with local people.
Unsustainable Resource use
Clam Relaying and Monitoring
The irregular operation of the barrage has altered the ecological stability of the lake and has resulted in the decrease of fishery and black clam resources. The participatory mapping of natural resource in Vembanad conducted by ATREE-CERC has found out that the clam resources in the southern Vembanad have declined significantly over the years. In this backdrop, ATREE-CERC wrote a proposal for Department of Fisheries, Govt. of Kerala and have taken an initiative to bring various stakeholders together to a common platform to establish a participatory inclusive institutional framework for the revival of the clam resources in the lake and livelihood enhancement of clam collectors.
This project aims to revive clam resources by relaying baby clams from northern part of Vembanad to the southern part and ensure sustainability of clam deposits. It is expected to revive the clam deposits in Vembanad by next 3-5 years through this process. This project also aims at sustainable harvesting and value addition of clams to enhance livelihood opportunities. The areas where the clams are deposited will be declared as a no collection zone and will be opened for harvest after a stable population is established.
Social Innovation Center
Social innovation Center was launched by ATREE CERC in Muhamma in the month of September 2018 to create a space for women to innovate and create enterprises that can directly or indirectly benefit the ecosystem. The innovation lab started off with basic facilities for sewing and the idea was to develop a platform for the women where they can rejuvenate their existing skills like tailoring. Now it empowers the women in the panchayat by providing them with the facilities to start an enterprise and also innovative develop new products.
Climate Leadership Program
ATREE CERC along with SUSTERA Foundation organized a Climate Leadership Program for selected youngsters from Kerala. Fifteen individuals were given intensive coaching on Climate Action for 6 days. These leaders have taken up small action in their own way at various capacities.