Nature’s Coast Guards
January 5, 2011
School of Business, Kochi
A team of MBA students from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham was invited to present a poster on mangrove ecosystems at India’s first Biodiversity Congress in Thiruvananthapuram.
The prestigious environment-related conference conducted at the Kerala University Campus, during December 27 – 31, 2010, specially noted the participation by students, including Amrita students, in a forum that mostly attracted top scientists and academicians.
The student poster completed as part of the students’ class on Environmental Management and Sustainable Development highlighted not only the role that mangrove ecosystems play in preserving the planet’s biodiversity by acting as breeding, feeding and nursery grounds for many estuarine and marine organisms, but also their significant benefits to humanity.
“Salt-tolerant evergreen forests found along coastlines, mangroves are found in 124 tropical and subtropical countries of the world including India,” the students noted. “Luxuriant patches are found on almost all continents, except Europe, the Arctic and Antarctic.”
Sometimes, they are popularly referred to as nature’s coast guards.
“Experiences have proved that the presence of mangrove ecosystems on coastlines can save lives and property during natural hazards such as cyclones storm surges,” the students stated.
“During the tsunami, the impact was far less in areas were mangroves were still intact.”
Although mangroves form a buffer zone between land and sea, they are being destroyed at an alarming rate around the world – even in India. The student poster drew attention to one such decimation in April 2010, close to where the conference was being held.
“More than ten acres of mangrove forests were completely destroyed in a government fish farm complex in Alapad Panchayat in Kollam district as part of a project to deepen ponds,” the students reported.
“It was the biggest destruction ever – the place looks barren now.”
“The destruction of mangrove ecosystems is caused mainly because their conservation benefits are not given importance,” the students noted. “This has led to mangroves being considered as wastelands with little use, and no value.”
The student poster also highlighted the Mangalavanam mangrove forest located in the wetlands in Ernakulum district. Known as the green lung of Kochi city, the ecosystem serves as a shelter for birds, both resident and migratory. Due to the development and expansion of Kochi city, the mangrove forest is shrinking in size.
“The mangrove forests at Mangalavanam need to be protected from deforestation for achieving environmental and ecological balance,” the students emphasized. The presence of this unique ecosystem amidst the bustle of the crowded city of Kochi is highly significant.”
“Let the mangrove site remain protected and be developed further for education, conservation and aesthetic purposes,” they recommended.