P Oppili The Times of India 29 Dec 15;
Considered among the oldest living organisms on earth, seagrasses are vital to the ef fort to find a solution to cli mate change. Also known as blue carbon, a meadow of seagrass per unit area can store twice as much carbon as the world's temperate and tropical forests -an acre can sequester 3,350 kg of carbon per year.
Now, the first-ever nationwide research is being conducted to study carbon sequestration by seagrass in Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay , Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chilika lagoon, Gulf of Kutch and Lakshadweep. Funded by the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change, the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management is studying how these organisms can help mitigate or defer global warming.
"Seagrass meadows are unsung underwater heroes that absorb carbon dioxide directly from the water and store them on plant matters, roots and soil.They aerate the environment by supplying oxygen," said R Ramesh, director of National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management.
The country possesses an abundant seagrass cover stretching over 360 sqkm. Of this, 172.5sqkm is in Palk Bay and 85.5 sqkm in Gulf of Mannar. In Chilika lagoon, it is spread over 80sqkm. Study has been completed in four of the six areas and researchers have mapped all the areas where seagrass is found. Study is yet to begin in Lakshadweep and Gulf of Kutch. Of the 58 species recognised so far across the world, India has 14 species and all of them are found in Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay . Lakshadweep sea bed is home to eight species, nine are found in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Researchers say the main aim of this study, which began last year, is to guide policy makers and give them the required information to help protect this effective and endangered ecosystem.Stabilising the sea bottom, providing food and habitat for marine organisms, maintaining water quality and supporting local communities are the important ecological services provided by seagrass.They also provide protection to the coast from erosion and tidal waves. This dynamic ecosystem for carbon transformation is also home to marine fish groups, crustaceans and echinoderms and sea turtles. The endangered dugong mainly feeds on seagrass.
However, this seagrass ecosystem, which can store carbon for thousands of years, are threatened by human activities like oil spills and through boat propellers and cargo that can rake through seagrass meadows and cut through roots.
Not a commodity that can be cultivated directly, its economic value can be measured through commercial fishing and wildlife tourism. Moreover, most of the fish species spend at least part of their life cycle inside the sea grass community, which reveals that sea grass is vital to fishing industry, say experts.
Climate change fund: NSCCC approves 4 projects
Zee News India 28 Dec 15;
New Delhi: The National Steering Committee on Climate Change (NSCCC) under the Environment Ministry today approved four projects including management and rehabilitation of coastal habitats for climate change adaptation in the Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu. The NSCCC approved four projects from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Punjab and considered one project submitted by Madhya Pradesh at its eighth meeting held here, an official statement said.
The meeting was held to consider Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) submitted by Tamil Nadu and Kerala for funding under the National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change (NAFCC). The meeting was also convened for demonstration projects submitted by Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Tamil Nadu under the Climate Change Action Programme (CCAP).
The statement said that the project, titled 'Management and Rehabilitation of Coastal Habitats and Biodiversity for Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Livelihood in the Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu', was submitted by the Tamil Nadu government. The total cost of the project will be Rs 24.74 crore and will cover 23 coastal villages of Tuticorin district.
The four-year project has five broad objectives - conduct baseline vulnerability studies, coral rehabilitation, sea grass rehabilitation, deployment of 6,000 Artificial Reef (AR) modules, and eco-development activities in the project villages. "The project will help in developing the much needed comprehensive plan or scheme for coral and sea grass restoration.
It will augment the database on coral ecosystem, species diversity, fish catch and effort, anthropogenic pressure and migration and survival rate. The project activities will lead to economic empowerment of 15 SHGs per village and benefit about 6,900 women," the statement said. The Environment Ministry said that the project will create a platform for knowledge development through regular meeting amongst departments like fisheries, forest and others and facilitate planning of roadmap for future conservation efforts.
P Oppili The Times of India 29 Dec 15;