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Mangrove Awareness Event Conducted for Kannur Panchayat Members at WTI-Apollo Tyres Mangrove Conservation Project Site
Kunhimangalam, Kerala, December 09, 2016: In a bid to educate panchayat members from across the Kannur district of Kerala about the importance of mangroves and their conservation, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Apollo Tyres, as part of their Kannur Kandal (Mangrove Conservation) Project, conducted an awareness event on mangrove ecosystems at the project’s Mangrove Interpretation Centre in Kunhimangalam on December 3.

More than 80 percent of the mangrove forests remaining in Kerala are under private ownership. The rest are mostly under the administration of local panchayats and the forest department. Involving panchayat members in mangrove conservation activities is crucial, therefore, if these invaluable coastal ecosystems, which are so important for shoreline protection, carbon sequestration, fisheries and biodiversity, are to be saved in the long-term.

Dr Jafer Palot of the Zoological Survey of India talks about faunal diversity of mangroves in Kerala in his session during the event

Some 20 representatives from nine panchayats attended the awareness event, which was inaugurated by Mrs Ragini P, Vice President of Kunhimangalam Panchayat, and chaired by panchayat member Mr EV Narayanan. WTI Field Officer Mr Ramith M welcomed the participants and Mr PP Rajan of the Mangrove Conservation Committee, Edat, delivered the vote of thanks.

Dr Jafer Palot, a scientist from the Zoological Survey of India, Calicut, conducted a class on the floral and faunal diversity of mangrove ecosystems as well as their importance (particularly social importance) and the threats to their survival. A discussion was then held on how mangrove conservation could be effected with the assistance of the local panchayats. The participants suggested that the project team should conduct awareness campaigns in all their respective panchayats, and promised to lend their support to the mangrove restoration activities to be conducted in their areas.

WTI Project Manager Mr Sajan John welcomed the support of the panchayat members. “The conservation of critical habitats like mangroves can only be possible with the active participation of local communities, and the panchayats have an important role to play in this regard”, he said.

Participants of the awareness event at the WTI-Apollo Tyres Mangrove Interpretation Centre at Kunhimangalam

Launched in April this year, the WTI-Apollo Tyres Kannur Kandal Project aims to ensure the survival of existing mangroves and increase the acreage of mangrove habitats across the Kannur district of northern Kerala. The project is based out of Kunhimangalam, the largest mangrove village in Kerala.

Key objectives of the project include ensuring the protection and conservation of pristine mangrove forests in the Kunhimangalam panchayat; increasing awareness on mangrove conservation; bringing together all key stakeholders regarding mangrove conservation; initiating a mangrove nursery; and encourage restoration of mangroves in degraded mangrove areas. 
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