The joint Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) for the conservation of the Sasthamcotta lake in Kollam district is set to be replicated as a participatory model for other large waterbodies facing multiple threats.
The Kerala State Biodiversity Board has published a biodiversity register for wetland ecosystem covering the catchment area of Sasthamcotta, the largest freshwater body in Kerala and a Ramsar site since 2002.
The register is the result of a year-long mapping exercise carried out in association with the joint BMC comprising representatives of the Sasthamcotta, East Kallada, and Mainagapally grama panchayats. “The participatory model adopted for the conservation of the Sasthamcotta lake has paid rich dividends,” says K.P. Laladhas, member secretary, KSBB.
“By ensuring the active involvement of the three-tier system of local administration, the project has managed to arrest the degradation of the waterbody.”
Chairman, KSBB Oommen V. Oommen said the joint BMC model adopted for the Sasthamcotta lake could be replicated for conservation of other big waterbodies threatened by human activities and climate change factors. “The biodiversity register has revealed the rich wealth of flora and fauna in the region, highlighting the need for conservation of the fragile ecosystem”, he said.
Last year, the joint BMC initiated a programme to cut down the acacia trees around the lake, identified as one of the reasons for the depletion of water level in the lake during the summer months. KSBB also launched a tree-planting drive to create a bio-fence around the lake.
Pressure on KWA
The joint BMC chaired by the president of the Sasthamcotta block panchayat has also brought pressure on the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) to regulate the extraction of water from the lake.
The biodiversity register says the lake is still under threat from urbanisation, pollution and changes in agricultural and land use patterns. The water level is decreasing and pollution levels are going up, it warns, calling for technical and financial support to rejuvenate the waterbody.