In a first, Kochi gets a biodiversity map

It marks marshlands, mangroves, backwaters, and open spaces in city

In what is a first for an Indian city, a natural assets map that delineates Kochi’s biodiversity, detailing species of plants, animals, insects, and natural features has been prepared.

Besides marking features such as marshlands, mangroves, backwaters and ponds, the map also identifies areas used as playgrounds, open spaces, and wetlands used for prawn culture.

An illustrated version of the map by cartoonist and illustrator Rohan Chakravarty representing key animal and plant species and landmarks was readied recently to communicate the richness of the city's biodiversity to its inhabitants.

“Biodiversity conservation is largely forest-oriented. The map will draw attention to the fact that even urban landscapes have their own biodiversity,” said Alex Jose, city associate, ICLEI-South Asia, a network of local governments working towards sustainable development.

Four-year project

The mapping was taken up by the Kochi Corporation’s Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development and ICLEI-South Asia as part of a German-funded project, Integrated Subnational Action for Biodiversity (Interact-Bio), being implemented in India, Brazil and Tanzania. The four-year project launched in 2017 is targeted at implementing biodiversity strategies and action plans in three Indian cities – Kochi, Mangaluru and Panaji.

The map is the first step towards preparing a local biodiversity strategy and action plan for Kochi. Similar maps have been prepared for forests and protected areas, but this is the first for a city, said Monalisa Sen, programme coordinator (biodiversity), ICLEI-South Asia.

“The city could then accordingly look at mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in urban planning which considers biodiversity elements and “blue” and “green” infrastructure rather than concretising everything,” she said.

Nature-based solutions that will help rejuvenate the city’s biodiversity and ecosystems will also be developed as part of the project.

The GIS-based survey of 98 sqkm within Kochi Corporation limits identifies 119 hectares under mangrove coverage, 82 hectares of inland backwaters, 13 hectares of beach and 199 hectares of tree patches.

A pictorial handbook on around 50 species of trees in Subhash Park and the labelling of these trees were also taken up as part of the project.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 3:47:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/in-a-first-kochi-gets-a-biodiversity-map/article30023478.ece

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