Meet lays stress on public awareness to conserve wetlands

Public awareness to realise the need to conserve wetlands is crucial, Renjith Thampan, Additional Advocate General of the High Court of Kerala, has said. He was inaugurating a panel discussion on ‘Wetlands for Kochi’s sustainable future’ to mark World Wetlands Day at the Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary in the city on Thursday.

Scientists, conservationists, lawyers, and students participated in the half-day event organised by the Community Environment Resource Centre of the Asoka Trust for Ecology and Environment (ATREE) and the Indian Association of Lawyers. The programme focused on the need for better water quality in wetlands and streamlining of wetland policies to conserve ecosystems.

With the new Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, introduced last year, the Centre has washed its hands off its responsibility for wetlands and their conservation by putting the onus on State wetland authorities, said moderator Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan (senior fellow, ATREE). Apart from changing the definition of what a wetland is, the new rules have also changed the way wetlands should be identified, said panelist Harish Vasudevan Sreedevi, an advocate practising at the Kerala High Court.

“Studies show that one hectare of wetland produces at least ₹20 lakh worth ecosystem services. We need more such scientific supporting documents that show the value of wetlands in terms of money, because that is the only language people now understand,” he added.

Panelist Shylaraj K.S., director of Kochi’s Rice Research Institute, touched on the importance of conserving the completely-organic Pokkali system of rice farming to save wetlands, for, along with the indigenous Pokkali rice variety and fish / prawn farms, the system supports mangroves (which qualify as coastal wetlands) along its edge.

The event, organised in association with Sacred Heart College, Thevara; Cochin Natural History Society, and Cochin University of Science and Technology, was supported by the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 12:12:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/meet-lays-stress-on-public-awareness-to-conserve-wetlands/article22639180.ece

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