World Wetlands Day celebrations at Godavari Mangrove Wetlands, Andhra Pradesh, India
Dr. Thupalli Ravishankar, Associate Director, M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, 7-5A-2/1, Gopalakrishna Street, Ramaraopet, Kakinada 533004, Andhra Pradesh, India
Email: , www.mssrf.org
World Wetlands Day was celebrated at Corangi and Dindu villages abutting Godavari Mangroves in Tallarevu Mandal, in East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. A procession starting from Corangi - Dindu Villages to Corangi Forest Guest House was organized.
Eighty students and teachers from Mandal Parishad Primary School, Corangi village, Pragathi Public School, Kakinada, Aditya School, Kakinada, members of Eco Development Committees (EDC) in Godavari Mangroves, Women Self Help Groups and Forest Department officials and media personnel participated in the rally and the meeting that followed. The students carried placards with slogans on the importance of wetlands and the way in which the mangrove wetlands protected some coastal areas during the recent Tsunami. Enthusiastic students shouted slogans on these themes. This awareness rally highlighting the importance of World Wetlands Day and mangroves started from Dindu village and concluded at Corangi forest guesthouse and covered a distance of more than three kilometers. Following this a meeting was conducted in the premises of Corangi Forest Guest House. Mr. Veerabhadram, District Forest Officer and Dr. Thupalli Ravishankar, Associate director, "Coastal wetlands: Strengthening the capacity of stakeholders for Joint Mangrove Management though education, training and policy advocacy", M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Kakinada flagged off the rally.
Mr. Sathyanarayana member Executive Committee, Corangi EDC, gave a brief speech on the role played by the EDC with facilitation from MSSRF and Andhra Pradesh Forest Department in the restoration and conservation of mangroves of Godavari in general and Coringa mangrove wildlife sanctuary in particular. He said that despite all these efforts, there is still scope for development activities, which should be undertaken by concerned authorities for effective conservation of wetlands.
Mr. Ravishankar, Assistant Forest Beat Officer, narrated how the mangroves could protect coastal people from the recent Tsunami. He said that each grown up mangrove tree gives goods and services worth of Rs. 16,00,000 (US$ 34,782).
Mr. Nithyan, Student of Pragathi Public School, Kakinada said that correct details on the distribution and values of mangroves are not known. He said that Tsunami has caused lot of damage to the lives and property of coastal communities but the impact was minimized in the areas where there is good mangrove cover. He said that every individual should be aware of the value of mangrove wetlands and get involved in the sustainable management of mangrove wetlands. He said that alternatives should be provided to the communities for their dependency on mangroves.
Mr. Monohar from Aditya School, Kakinada emphasized the need for greater protection and conservation f mangroves
Ms. Lavanya, Ms. Sathyaveni, Ms. Veeralakshmi and Ms. Sandhya sang songs on mangrove protection and national flag of India and global peace.
Mr. Raman, Manager, M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai spoke about the devastation caused by Tsunami in Tamil Nadu and the role played by mangroves in subsiding the tidal waves in places like Pichavaram.
Mr. R. Sathyanarayana, Assistant Forest Beat Officer, narrated the efforts of MSSRF, APFD and local community in restoring and conserving the Godavari mangroves in the past eight years. He said that the mangrove forest cover has increased substantially and bird and otter population has also increased correspondingly.
Dr. Thupalli Ravishankar, Associate Director and Principal Scientist, MSSRF, Kakinada delivering Presidential address said that the "World Wetlands Day" is celebrated all over the world in order to raise awareness on the need and importance of wetlands in human life and the need for its sustainable management. He said that on 2 February in 1971 the convention on wetlands took place in Ramsar on the banks of Caspian Sea in Iran. From 1977 the WWD is celebrated every year all over the world. He informed that gathering said that so far 144 counties have become parties to the convention. By joining together these countries are able to conserve 1420 Ramsar sites in an area of 123 million hectares. He said that in Godavari mangrove about 2.5 crores worth fishery resources are harvested annually from an area of 330 sq.km of mangrove wetland.
Dr. Ravishankar said that, time and again the mangroves are proving their value in terms of protecting human lives and material assets from natural calamities like the recent Tsunami. He also said that after the recent Tsunami there has been wide spread interest in afforestation and restoration of mangroves all along the coast. He said that mangroves should not be grown everywhere. He cautioned that mangrove restoration or afforestation needs technical knowledge, which MSSRF has been rendering. He said that MSSRF is bringing out a book on " A Tool Kit for Bio Shield", which will give information on do's and don'ts in mangrove restoration, afforestation, mangrove nursery raising and coastal shelterbelts.
"There's wealth in wetland diversity
- don't lose it!"