Environment

Mumbai gets its first interactive biodiversity map

Mumbai’s biodiversity map   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Last year, the Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic (MMM), a collective of Mumbaikars and environmental organisations (including Waatavaran and Project Mumbai), launched a static biodiversity map for the city. Illustrated by cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty, 33, (@greenhumour on Instagram) known for his comics on nature and conservation, an interactive version of the map went online earlier this week.

“The interactive map helps you learn about unique species of flora and fauna found in and around Mumbai like the White Chippi mangrove, Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin, Bombay Sea Slug, and Mugger crocodile. Showcasing these through detailed illustrations and photos from local photographers has brought to life the vibrant biodiversity of this region,” says Suma Balaram, MMM’s Creative Lead.

Click to view the interactive map

The map — with clickable features with details of the species, their habitats and their conservation status — covers the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and the water bodies of Thane Creek, Mahim Bay, Vasai Creek, and the Arabian Sea. It highlights 17 species of flora, 78 species of fauna, and also depicts the interdependence of indigenous communities such as Adivasis and Kolis on local biodiversity.

The team at MMM says the map will also be used as a tool to educate children at local schools, and encourage citizens to reconnect with the ecosystems in the city. Alongside information on local biodiversity, it also provides information on volunteering opportunities with local conservation organisations such as the Mangrove Foundation of Maharashtra, Bombay Natural History Society, and Vanashakti.

Excerpts from an interview with Chakravarty:

Rohan Chakravarty

Rohan Chakravarty   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

What was the idea behind creating the interactive map?

The Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic approached me in June 2020 to create the map and by August we had executed the illustrations. I have been doing illustrated maps on biodiversity as an ongoing series for various organisations and forest departments, both in India and abroad. I think the team from MMM had seen a couple of my projects. The motive was to create an ‘at a glance’ visual resource for the city. In the map, you will find popular articles and scientific papers that are not something you can find in one place in a comprehensive manner.

Your learnings from the project.

My biggest takeaway was realising that while there was so much that I thought I knew [there’s also a lot I didn’t know]. Drawing has always been my go-to process to try and retain things mentally, as I have poor memory — it is one of the reasons why I am an artist. I learnt a lot while researching for the illustrations. For instance, in Mumbai, there are creatures that are endemic to the region. One such is the Giri’s Geckoella, a beautiful lizard that inhabits the forest near Aarey. There are several others — spiders, scorpions, etc — that need to be known to the world, and this illustration is one of the means that I am trying to use to accomplish this.

Giri’s Geckoella

Giri’s Geckoella   | Photo Credit: Rajesh Sanap

Why did you incorporate the city’s culture in the map?

Mumbai is a mix of various cultures. It’s not just the representation of urban elements like the BST buses, local trains, the metro, or the dabbawalas, but we have also tried to bring in the tribal elements. The compass of the map pays tribute to Warli art; there is also a depiction of the Koli fishing community: two aspects that the government is sidelining and actively pushing to the city’s fringes. The illustration itself becomes a reminder to our generation and future ones that these elements are also at the core of what Mumbai is.

Are you planning similar interactive maps for other regions?

This has been a pet project of mine and I have been pitching it to several organisations, and many have approached me too. As part of the series with ICLEI [International Council for Local Environment Initiatives], I have drawn similar maps for Kochi, Gangtok, Panjim, and my hometown, Nagpur. Hyderabad will be next in the series, but I don’t think any of these will be interactive like Mumbai’s map.


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 8:47:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/ministry-of-mumbais-magic-interactive-biodiversity-map-goes-live/article35073377.ece

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