Rama Setu: Gulf of Mannar biosphere reserve, livelihood of local people
Bad planning a threat to bioreserve
Friday September 21 2007 03:39 IST
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
CHENNAI: The coral reef ecosystems in the Gulf of Mannar (GoM) region have come under increasing pressure due to inappropriate development, all because of insufficient planning, management and policy decisions, said S Kannaiyan, chairman, National Biodiversity Authority (NBA).
He said that the ecology of the region had suffered from environmental stress, unsustainable fisheries and harvesting methods, climate- related coral bleaching and diseases, land-based sources of pollution, sedimentation and coral mining.
The GoM is also one of the areas which comes within the ambit of the dredging operation for the controversial Sethusamudram Canal Project.
Delivering his presidential address at an international workshop on ‘Gulf of Mannar biosphere reserve: An ecological model for biodiversity conservation, livelihood and sustainability,’ jointly organised by the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), here on Thursday, Kannaiyan said that the negative impact on the GoM had eroded the livelihood of the local people who depended on the healthy coral reefs.
“It is envisaged that the final outcome of this workshop will direct efforts towards an integrated approach to conservation. Socioeconomic and biological monitoring will be viewed as an integrated activity,” he noted.
Delivering the inaugural address, Minister of State for Forests and Environment S Raghupathy said that the National Environment Policy (NEP) – 2006, emphasised the need for priority conservation of entities of incomparable value (EIV), both natural and man-made, which might have an impact on the well-being of a large number of persons.
“The NEP underscores that the most secure basis of conservation is to ensure that people dependent on particular resources obtain better livelihoods from the act of conservation, than from the degradation of resources,” he said. Raghupathy emphasised that the GoM was one of India’s largest biosphere reserves, covering an area of 10,500 square kilometres.
“It encompasses a mosaic of ecological systems which consist of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems,” he pointed out and added that the biological hotspot of the GoM harboured more than 100 species of corals and thousands of sea turtles and endangered sea animals like dolphins and dugongs.
Stressing on the conservation measures taken by the Union Government, Raghupathy said his Ministry was taking steps to have one biosphere reserve in each of the 25 bio-geographic provinces.
Minja Yang, Director, UNESCO, New Delhi, said that the organisation was ready to support the efforts of the government in order to make the GoM a model biosphere reserve, in terms of conservation.