Lake Protection Forum
Lake Protection Forum (LPF) is an attempt to capacitate, engage and cultivate ownership among local communities and ensure equity participation for the adaptive management of the heavily used Vembanad Socio-Ecological System (SES), the sustainability of which lies in the active involvement of the dependent communities in its governance. This is possible only by institutionalizing community rights over protection and harvest of the natural resources.
With the initiative of ATREE CERC, fisher-folk and local people were organized to form a registered body to protect and conserve the lake’s natural resources and the livelihood of the fisher folks. The first Lake Protection Forum (LPF) was formed in Srayithode (Muhamma, Alappuzha). Setting up of matsyathavalam (fish sanctuary) on an experimental basis and conservation activities shot this LPF to the media limelight. Delighted by the success of the first LPF, more and more village collectives came forward and 13 such LPFs are now registered around the Vembanad Lake. Each LPF consists of 50 members of the local community, of which almost 40% are women. Lake protection forums are now emerging as well organized grass root democratic institutions of the primary stakeholders committed for the conservation and sustainable management of the Vembanad SES.
All LPFs are federated under the Samyutka Vembanad Kayal Samrakshana Samithy (Federation of Vembanad Lake Protection Forums), an apex body to which all LPFs are members with equal stakes. The executive committee of the Federation consists of two representatives from each of the 13 Lake Protection Forums. The Federation provides leadership and guidance and coordinates the activities of the LPFs. Federation also helps in planning and raising necessary supports for the activities of the LPFs and liaisons and negotiates with the government and other institutions.
Today, the LPFs and the Federation are actively engaged in various activities to sustain and improve the fishery resources and ecological health of the lake. Their major contributions include setting up of “Matsyathavalam” (fish sanctuary) and awareness building activities like promotion of ethical fishing practices and conservation actions like Mandala plastic cleaning campaign, participatory water quality monitoring and celebration of important days in conservation such as World Wetlands Day, World Environment Day etc