Community mangrove nurseries proposed for building natural shield

The mangrove nursery at the house of environmentalist Murukesan Thekkinezhathu who manages the pilot community mangrove nursery project.

The mangrove nursery at the house of environmentalist Murukesan Thekkinezhathu who manages the pilot community mangrove nursery project. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The first of the many potential community mangrove nurseries along the 14 coastal villages in Ernakulam district for building a shield of mangroves to protect the coast has been set up at Malippuram in Elamkunnapuzha village.

The mangrove planting programme has been conceived as a supporting project for the fisheries-based skill development and livelihood enhancement project in coastal villages under the HDFC Bank Parivartan, a holistic rural development project, being implemented by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation. The project is basically about identifying the basic natural resources in the area concerned and facilitating enterprises based on their conservation.

Fifty-one-year-old environmentalist Murukesan Thekkinezhathu was identified for managing the pilot community mangrove nursery project, since he already had a nursery with capacity to grow up to 30,000 mangrove plants at a time. He claims to have grown and planted in excess of one lakh mangrove plants along the coastal belt of the district since 2014.

“Previously, the plants were grown in plastic bags, but then their disposal became a problem in itself. Now, I plant mangrove seeds in two hollowed out bamboo pieces tied together and filled with mud and placed on an elevated bed of water. They are planted in the chosen locations once they grow in excess of around two feet in two to three months,” said Mr. Thekkinezhathu.

The mangrove nursery at Murukesan’s home

The mangrove nursery at Murukesan’s home

Plans are also afoot to launch a survey and documentation about the natural population of mangroves on the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem on July 26 with the help of students of SNM College, Maliankara, and other grassroots-level groups engaged in nature conservation.

The first of the 500 mangrove plants under the project will be planted alongside a canal near Aniyil beach at Elamkunnapuzha on Thursday. “Our primary focus is on filling the gaps in the natural population of mangroves. The proposed survey coupled with consultations with the panchayats will help us identify the places where mangroves will have to be planted, and community nurseries will have to be set up across the 14 villages,” said Prajeesh Parameswaran, programme coordinator.

Mr. Thekkinezhathu, however, rued that despite having faced the wrath of natural calamities time and again, people seem to be unaware of the significance of preserving mangroves, which serve as a formidable shield against calamities. “There have been instances where thousands of mangroves were uprooted shortly after they were planted,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 9:00:58 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/community-mangrove-nurseries-proposed-for-building-natural-shield/article65575655.ece