Conservation and Sustainable Management of Wetlands in key areas in the Nilgiris is a prime interest area of Keystone. One chill winter morning, we set out on an exploratory study of these wetlands and thus started the project.
Wetlands of the Nilgiris are unique, unlike wetlands in general – these are small sized hill wetlands, life giving in nature…habitat for a variety of wildlife, flora and meet the needs of the people. These wetlands are fragmented in small random patches – with underground connectivity of water channels. There are no dramatic landscapes that lead to the wetland zones, it is sometimes found in the most unexpected places – and therefore has been taken for granted and their functions and roles significantly under estimated.
In the upper areas of Mukurti National Park – wetlands occupy central places as they are the corridors of the streams. They form belts around the streams and contribute to the flow – bringing in water and other nutrients from the side slopes and grasslands.
Over the years, there has been an apparent destruction of these valuable habitats, the scale of which is unprecedented in human history. Large wetlands in the Nilgiris also suffered from the same fate.
We decided to conduct an intensive rapid survey and mapping of crucial wetland habitats, taking into account ecological aspects, socio-economic situation of stakeholders within the wetland home-range and economic activities that are on-going at present. Simultaneously, we conducted several awareness generation programmes that included walks, designing posters and booklets and speaking more about them to people who have depended on these resources for ages.We also started a process of dialogue and advocacy with the Government on how to declare these wetlands as important conservation areas and initiate legal steps towards it.
As an implementation initiative, we developed local wetlands conservation and management plans in five critically important zones of the district. The truth remains that with increasing population pressure and immense problems of degradation, wetlands are usually the first casualties. But a greater fact came out through the survey and that is of the high degree of importance indigenous people attach to the resources and their willingness to protect the wetlands remains exemplary….
You too.. Be a Voice for the Wetlands