SPECIAL SESSION 3

VEMBANAD LAKE ECOSYSTEM:
CHALLENGES AND WAY FORWARD

Date: December 17, 2019; Time: 9:30 – 17:30 
Venue: CUSAT SMS Auditorium, Kochi, India 

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Shubha Satyendranath

Scientist, Remote Sensing Group 
Plymouth Marine Laboratory United Kingdom

Organizers

Dr. Nandini Menon, NERCI, Cochin
Dr. Grinson George, CMFRI, Cochin
Dr. Anas Abdul Aziz, NIO-RC, Cochin

Background

Estuarine ecosystems are complex and ecologically delicately balanced systems, which can be severely disrupted by even small scale interventions.  The largest estuarine ecosystem in Kerala, Vembanad lake, is one that faces disastrous degradation.

Vembanad lakeis a Ramsar site, and a cultural iconwith 1.6 million people dependent directly on it, and a larger number indirectly, for livelihood. Recognising its importance, Government of India has included Vembanad-Kol wetland within its National Wetlands Conservation Programme.  The lake is a resource-rich, highly productive region that has become the hub of industrial, tourism and other activities, which together with the conflicting interests of the communities dependent on the lake, has made it one of the most polluted water bodies in India.  Apart from the polluting industries, the lake also harbours pathogenic microbes which cause disease outbreaks reaching epidemic proportions in the vicinity of the lake.

Vembanad lake, extending about 100 km and spreading over three administrative districts in Kerala, is very fragmented, extremely narrow and shallow in places, with immense diversity in environmental conditions and strong seasonality in forcing. leading to a highly variable ecosystem. Thanneermukkom bund divides the lake into two sectors, a northern part retaining the estuarine characteristics, and the southern part, reduced to a fresh water basin, subject to incursion of saline water only during the non-monsoon seasons. The Kuttanad area, 1,100 sq km of agricultural land, is the reclaimed part of the lake, which is below sea level and important as the ‘Rice Bowl of Kerala’.

It is that action be taken to conserve the water body where livelihoods and health are linked almost visiblyto environment.  The challenge therefore is to conserve the ecosystem along with its rich biodiversity while providing sustained economic benefits to thecommunity dependent upon these resources for its livelihood.

In dealing with such a large canvas dotted with myriad problems, where do we begin?

The special session on Vembanad lake ecosystem: Challenges and way forward is a platform to address the issues plaguing the lake, and for proposing solutions that can benefit the people and society.  By bringing various stake holders such as academia, researchers, policy makers and practitioners from multiple disciplines, the Session aims to address crucial issues and challenges with respect to Vembanad lake. The ultimate objective is the development of an information base to be used by policy makers and regulators reconciling the competing interests in the water body through providing solutions to clean up, improve, monitor and maintain water quality in the lake; and restore its ecosystem.

Objectives

  • To identify the reasons for the declining biodiversity combining in situ and remote sensing approaches to elucidate the responsible environmental conditions.
  • To assess the impact on sustainability and livelihood of traditional fisher-folk with respect to the present socio-cultural, economic and health status of the ecosystem.
  • To develop innovative and alternate methods for monitoring the ecosystem – citizen science initiatives
  • To develop a suitable management policy by incorporating all the stakeholders in the system.

Call for Papers

      The Conference welcomes papers for oral (4-5 numbers only) and poster           presentations on the themes mentioned below

  • Pollution in the estuary
  • Decline in biodiversity
  • Impact of Thanneermukkom bund on the ecosystem
  • Methods of monitoring the estuary – innovative approaches
  • Impact of climate change on estuary
  • Impact of reclamation and other land use patterns on the natural functioning of the ecosystem
  • Community & stakeholders’ participation; education and awareness
  • Socio-economic impacts of the ecosystem degradation