Wetlands are being gobbled up

: In the absence of a conservation and sustainable management plan for wetlands, the lakes in Kerala are increasingly prone to encroachment, pollution, and debilitation caused by invasive alien species.

On the eve of the World Wetlands Day 2015 to be observed on Monday, scientists have called for drastic measures to check the considerable reduction in waterspread area of the three Ramsar sites in Kerala, namely the Ashtamudi, Sasthamcotta and Vembanad lakes, and the ecological threats faced by smaller waterbodies like the Veli-Akkulam lake.

The Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) has initiated efforts to prepare a management action plan for the Ashtamudi and Sasthamcotta lakes.

According to George Chackacherry, scientist, CWRDM, there is an urgent need to address the threats faced by the wetlands from an environmental perspective.

The consequences

Scientists say the disappearance of wetlands will affect access to fresh water for millions of people, and impact livelihoods and biodiversity. Research work done by the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, reveals that the organic pollution of the Veli-Akkulam lake ecosystem in Thiruvananthapuram has assumed serious dimensions.

A study conducted by U.G. Abhijna showed that all the ecological indicators were far below the required standards. Another work by R. Regi showed that more than half the area of the lake was affected by the spread of the exotic water hyacinth Eochhornia crassipes while the exotic Tilapia had emerged as the dominant species, crowding out native fishes.

The increasing number of African catfish and sucker catfish in the Akkulam Lake is also of great concern, notes A. Biju Kumar, Head of Department. The indigenous catfish (mushi) which was common in the lake is not seen anymore. Increased development activities and encroachment have also whittled down the water mass and impacted on the health of the lake ecosystem.

Dr. Kumar argues for a Wetland Management Authority for conservation and management of the lakes in Kerala. He highlights the need to prepare a GIS map of the wetlands to identify encroachments and prevent further reclamation.

February 2 is

World Wetlands Day.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 3:23:57 PM |

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