The focus will be on using the wisdom of various groups to create an effective conservation protocol.

The Social Forestry Wing of the Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department is developing a site-specific action plan for its turtle conservation initiative launched under the title ‘Green Partnership Programme.’

The plan, to factor in the distinct challenges and requirements of different groups of local conservators and the respective sites, would be ready in two weeks, Bransdon Corrie, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Social Forestry, told The Hindu in Kozhikode on Monday.

The department was collecting inputs necessary to chalk out the plan from different sources including citizens’ groups involved sea turtle conservation efforts, researchers, and non-governmental organisations. Any conservation mission, Dr. Corrie said, could be achieved only through a coordinated, comprehensive, scientific, and participatory approach. “Our strategy is to increase the support base for turtle conservation and build capacity of the existing citizens’ groups,” he said.

At a workshop organised by the Social Forestry Wing at Vanasree Forest Complex at Mathotam here on Monday, representatives of different citizens’ groups stated the challenges faced by them in conservation efforts in front of Forest official and conservation scientists.

Major concerns

Indiscriminate construction, including for tourism development, ‘illegal and unsustainable’ fishing methods, use of ‘trawlers,’ rampant coastal sand-mining, and construction of seawalls were some of the major concerns, the speakers said.

Some speakers also listed details of a ‘visible decline’ in the number of turtles (mainly Olive Ridleys) despite vigorous efforts.

Scientists and researchers explained the probable reasons that could have caused a reduction in the number of turtles.

Senior Forest officials including Winston Suting and Amit Malik, who addressed the gathering, said the department would do all that was possible to support conservation efforts.

Sajan John, a Bangalore-based marine turtle researcher, who was among the speakers, told The Hindu that the feedback from the conservationists were vital for the preparation and correction of scientific protocols for conservation.

Distilling the practical wisdom of various groups involved in conservation, identifying and prioritising challenges, and developing a more efficient protocol were the main objectives of the workshop, Dr. Corrie said. “All important feedback and suggestions from participants will be favourably considered while preparing the site-specific action plan,” he said.