Echo 2022: Kerala accosts both leaps and setbacks in environment

Representative Image l Photo: Mathrubhumi

Buffer Zone row

A June 3 directive of the Supreme Court led the people residing near the protected areas in the state to wrestle with the authorities. The order proposed one-kilometre-long buffer zones, also known as Ecologically Sensitive Zone, around the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, causing the ongoing tussle.

The court had directed to strictly follow the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 2011, to regulate or put an end to certain activities in these proposed buffer zones.

Protest in Wayanad

Meanwhile, amid the huge protests against the satellite survey-based report prepared, the Kerala government has launched initiatives for field surveys to fetch a better clarity of buildings and other structures in the areas under controversy.

State Action Plan on Climate Change 2023- 2030

The second edition of Kerala State Action Plan on Climate Change aims to achieve the goal of using 100 per cent renewable energy by 2040 and emerging as a carbon-neutral state by 2050.

The SAPCC 2.0 report noted that Kerala is vulnerable to natural calamities due to geographic position and placed Wayanad, Kozhikode, Kasaragod, Palakkad, Alappuzha, Idukki, Kannur, Malappuram, and Kollam under highly vulnerable districts. Thrissur, Ernakulam, and Pathanamthitta have lower vulnerability indices.

The state government will resort to climate change adaptations in crucial sectors, including agriculture, water resources, forest, coastal fisheries, biodiversity, and health.

Incidents of human-animal conflict

Wild jumbos attacks in human settlements were higher this year.

In May, the government entrusted local bodies to deal with the menace of wild boar. Though it helped to curb the population of the animal, the threat is not yet completely over.

Tiger caught in Cheeral

Tigers in the human settlement near forests caused fear throughout the year. The tiger that killed at least nine domestic animals in Cheeral in Wayanad was caught after 26-day-long efforts to trap it.

Amid such conflicts, a video of wild sambar deer visiting a tea stall at Puliyilapara in Thrissur and the tea shop owner offering tea to the deer turned out to be a soothing visual.

Vembanad lake shrinks

The second largest wetland ecosystem in the country, Vembanad lake, found to be shrinking due to illegal construction on its banks and pollution, reported Centre for Aquatic Resource Management and Conservation (CARMC) and Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS). The lake bordering Alappuzha, Kottayam, and Ernakulam is spread across 2000 square kilometres in area.

Vembanad lake was declared a Ramsar site of international significance in 2002. However, allegations were raised that no measures were taken to protect by acknowledging the importance of this wetland system yet.

Vembanad lake l Photo: Mathrubhumi

Heating Arabian sea

Series of cyclones wreaked havoc in many South Indian states, including Kerala due to the increasing warming of the Arabian sea. One of the worst impacts of this event could be the unpredictability of the South West monsoon. Extreme weather events followed as the South West monsoon collected more moisture from the Arabian sea because of the increased heating of the sea surface, say experts.

From 29 degrees celsius of average temperature in 1980s, the sea surface temperature has crossed 30-degree celsius lately attributing the cause to climate change.

Photo: Ragesh EV/ Mathrubhumi

Startup Tree Tag receives Climathon 2022 Award

The startup Tree Tag founded by Thiruvananthapuram natives Abhijith Kumar Meenakumari and Ashutosh B Sai won the Climathon 2022 Award, which is a hackathon of Kerala Startup Mission.

Tree Tag provides a web platform that tracks the growth and nurturing of saplings planted by their clients in connection with conservational projects. The startup Tree Tag envisions its opportunities in Corporate Social Responsibility by giving predominance to environmental protection.

Abhijith Kumar Meenakumari, Ashutosh B Sai l Photo:

A eureka moment for bird watchers

At Chavakkad beach in Thrissur, a group of ornithologists spotted the Russian migratory bird Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) in the month of November 2022.

Before landing in the southern winter grounds of India, the bird spent considerable time in the Yellow Sea region between China and the Korean peninsula, and Thailand during its nearly 10,000-kilometre-long flight from Russia.

Great Knot l

Climate Assembly for Children and Youth 2022

Logo of the Climate Assembly

Children and Youth Assembly for Climate Change was organised under the joint efforts of UNICEF and the Kerala legislative assembly. The climate assembly facilitated the kids and youth to introspect on the issues of global warming and climate change and the part each stakeholder has to perform.

The official bird of Kerala, the Great Indian Hornbill, was chosen as the mascot for the conference, while ‘Only One Earth’ was its motto.

Recurring landslips

Landslip recorded at Kundala Dam and Munnar Echo Point following torrential rainfall in November.

The landslide hit Kundala in Munnar on the second anniversary of the Pettimudi disaster, which claimed the lives of 70 people. Fortunately, the landslip which hit Munnar-Vattavada path stuck without falling downwards, saving at least 41 families living below.

Minor landslips were common in hilly regions in the state during the monsoon.

‘Miss Kerala’ enters WPA

Aquarists in the nation were puzzled when ‘Miss Kerala’, also known as Denison Barb, a native freshwater fish commonly found in Karnataka and Kerala found its way into Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act.

Miss Kerala l Photo:

In 2010, ‘Miss Kerala’ was enlisted on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable species. The fish has highly relied on ornamental fish exports from India.

Depleting freshwater fish species

Ashtamudi Fish Census found a decline in freshwater species diversity and a surge in marine fish species in Ashtamudi lake.

Though the lake is now extensively used for aquaculture, the population and the size of the freshwater fish endemic to this region are rapidly declining.

Ashtamudi lake l Photo: Mathrubhumi

The shortage of freshwater flow from the Kallada river has led to the invasion of marine species into the lake posing a challenge to the endemic fish varieties here. The census revealed the presence of marine fish ‘Muppiri’ (Tripod Fish), ‘Kadauva Nanthal’ (Cardinal Fish), and ‘Cheru Paara’ (Queen Fish) for the first time in Ashtamudi lake. Apart from this, Mackerel and Trachinotes Blochii have become common here.

The census noted that the usage of small-mesh nets for fishing, pollution, and climate change as also a threat to the freshwater fish varieties.

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