Artificial islands coming up in Oussudu lake

In a fillip to the Forest Department’s efforts to improve habitat for birds in the biodiversity rich Oussudu lake, Puducherry-based Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation (IBF) and Aaranyam Foundation have initiated steps to recreate habitats and artificial islands on the lake to woo winged visitors.

The Oussudu lake is identified as a wetland of national importance under the National Wetland Conservation Programme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), and has also been declared one of the 93 significant wetlands in Asia by the Asian Wetland Bureau.

The Forest Department in collaboration with wildlife researchers and conservationists has been intensifying efforts to protect the flora and fauna of the lake, which is home to over 166 bird species and also one of the major sanctuaries for migratory birds on the Coromandal Coast.

The inter-State lake covers an expanse of 800 hectares, of which 390 hectares lies in Puducherry.

The normal migratory season begins by mid-October and continues till February. As soon as the lake went bone-dry, IBF and Aaranyam Foundation wrote to the Forest department seeking permission to create artificial islands ideal for nesting of birds before the onset of the migratory season.

Conservator of Forests G. Kumar gave the green signal and IBF and Aaranyam Foundation on Saturday started the process of creating artificial islands. The project is funded by Five Star Groups and the two NGOs. The new islands are expected to be ready this winter.

According to S. Vimalraj, a wildlife conservationist of IBF, “nine artificial islands have been planned on the lake. They would be built 150 metres from the lake’s boundaries on around three hectares. The alluvial soil generated from desilting the lake bed will be formed into a mound for creating the islands.”

The islands will be separated by a distance of 100 metres and will come up close to the Poothurai Road. Three-metre deep trenches will be dug surrounding the artificial islands to ensure a natural habitat with adequate prey for the birds, he said.

“Though the lake has completely gone dry except for a thin strip of water near the lake bund, migratory birds such as the White Ibis have been visiting the lake in large numbers in search of prey.

Though this is good news, the birds have been moving to other wetlands in the region such as the Kaliveli lake in Villupuram district and Vedanthangal bird sanctuary in Kancheepuram district due to lack of prey in the Oussudu Lake. Migratory birds such as the Spot Billed Pelican, Painted Stork and Spoonbill Duck will return once the islands are ready,” said Prabhu N. Ponmudi, a wildlife researcher.

K. Raman, N. Ratheesh and U. Sooriya from IBF have compiled a list of over 100 saplings that will be planted on the periphery of the artificial islands.

According to P. Devaraj, former Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, the islands with vegetation and foliage will ensure the perfect habitat for nesting and roosting of birds. The denser the vegetation the better it is for birds to find shelter and food, he said.

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 4:08:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/artificial-islands-coming-up/article28494107.ece

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