The first stage of the project was concerned with collection of data on wetlands from prominent wetlands of the Nilgiris. An attempt was made to cover as many wetlands as possible and from as many representative areas in the Nilgiris. However, the more we studied about wetlands; we realized that we have barely managed to touch the most outer surface of wetlands in the Nilgiris. For, not only were there innumerable wetlands, but each was distinct in its own way. We surveyed more than 40 wetlands and comprehensively covered about 38 of them. Along the way, we found innumerable wetlands in the Nilgiris and learnt about the amazing importance wetlands have for man and wildlife. Towards the end of the first phase of the project, we compiled all knowledge on these wetlands in the form of simple report. We made posters and organised walks in the town promoting wetland awareness and protection in vulnerable urban areas. The second stage started with more awareness campaigns that included making posters on various issues regarding wetlands.
Local management plans
Out of 38 wetlands, five have been selected for further research and specific local management plans have been prepared for these.
A General management plan and local management plans for five surveyed wetlands have been prepared in collaboration with multi-stakeholders in the particular regions. A set of criteria has been developed after thoroughly analyzing the data and applicability; the wetlands were then classified on that basis. Management plans have been outlined based on these criteria.
These wetlands were selected considering the fact that they represented different ownerships, communities and usage. The data analysed showed these wetlands as having high socio-economic dependence as well as high ecological threat. Therefore, these wetlands required immediate attention and immediate implementation of the management plans.
Implementation of Management plan for Wetlands of the Nilgiris.
Preparation of a management plan for wetlands that have multiple stakeholders is a complex effort and its implementation would be an even greater challenge in the current scenario. However, the first step needs to be taken and this effort addresses that initiative.
The first step is to identify the stakeholders and quantify usage as well as existing threats from and upon the wetlands of Nilgiris. This needs to be followed up with awareness generation campaigns and efforts to motivate stakeholders towards formation of a committee. The committee so formed would involve stakeholders including government officials from panchayat, water and sanitation departments, besides the direct stakeholders.