The Social Forestry Department here has come up with a management action plan to plant mangrove saplings in the ecologically-precious Kottuli wetlands within the city. The proposal is to nurture fresh mangrove saplings in around two hectares of land.

K. Uthaman, Deputy Conservator of Forests (Social Forestry), said the project, expected to cost around Rs.1 lakh during its first phase of implementation, had won the approval of the State government. “The process of planting saplings will begin next month,” he added.

The department is also moving ahead with steps to promote the cultivation of mangroves in private lands. As part of the initiative, applications have already been invited from individuals to benefit from a special financial aid of Rs.10,000 sanctioned by the State government. The department would select a person from the district who devoted the largest area of land for mangrove cultivation to begin with the promotion drive.

“Although the government has invited applications from individuals, many are seemingly reluctant to apply for the aid following a misconception that the process is meant to prepare A databank of mangroves and to mark out the spot for government proceedings,” said Mr. Uthaman. He added that the department would not be able to consider the applications of persons who failed to apply before July 31.

According to officials, a proposal given by the Social Forestry Department here recommended to the government to sanction an annual financial aid of Rs.10,000 for all persons who preserved at least one hectare of mangroves in their property. The aid could also be granted for conserving the existing mangrove fields, they said.

Sacred groves

The Social Forestry Department will select five more sacred groves from the district this year to extend special financial aid for conservation initiatives.

For the purpose, the department is planning to invite fresh applications from people who presently own and protect such ecologically important locations.

Mr. Uthaman said the department extended financial support to conserve three selected sacred groves in the district. Each of these groves would be given a fund of Rs.3 lakh, he added.

According to officials, they had already directed the people who maintained these groves to label each of the rare species of plants and herbs being protected. They have also been asked to seek the support of experts from the Kerala Forest Research Institute to carry out the labelling process scientifically.

The drive to conserve the sacred groves in the district started in 2009. No fewer than 45 applications had reached the Social Forestry Department seeking the benefits of the project.

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