Coastal wetlands get two big protectors
Two major scientific institutes have come together to map, validate and protect wetlands that are smaller than 2.25 hectares across India’s 7,516.6km coastline, to build resilience against the impact of climate change.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad under Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (ICAR-CMFRI), Kochi on Tuesday to this effect.
As per the MoU, the institutes aim to identify and demarcate wetlands, and protect them through coastal livelihood programs.
Wetlands act as a buffer zone between the land and sea, protect land from erosion and act as a shield against cyclones and other ecological disasters.
The MoU, under the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) launched by the Centre in February 2011, is a boost for wetland conservation in Maharashtra. HT had reported on January 5 that Maharashtra had stopped identifying coastal wetlands since they were already protected under coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms.
Studies have found that climate change is resulting in mean sea level rise because of thermal expansion of water. This expansion is due to a rise in global temperatures, which in turn is leading to flooding concerns in low-lying coastal areas.
“When coastal areas get inundated, they become marshy tidal points, which later become degraded wetlands,” said Grinson George, senior scientist, ICAR-CMFRI, Kochi.
“Secondly, global warming causes isolated incidents of torrential rains bringing in a lot of silt along coastal zones. This reduces existing depth of shallow or small wetlands.”
The two institutes will develop a smartphone application and webcast their conservation efforts to coastal stakeholders, the MoU said. “Our primary aim will be to organise a network to help local communities find economical gains using these wetlands. Activities such as aquaculture and crab farming will be promoted and these communities will also upload wetland information on our servers,” said George. “Along with satellite data, we can also conduct a validation exercise of wetlands and issue advisories for natural disasters or health issues.”
Meanwhile, SAC said they will be enhancing existing data from their National Wetland Atlas, 2011. “Now, CMFRI Kochi will provide real-time data for wetland mapping that will be included in our global information system (GIS) database, and integrating it with coastal wetland information. By October, the new app and web portal will be ready,” said a senior scientist from SAC, in-charge of the project.