Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vetiver's a beach- and coral-saving green shield!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This just in from our friends in Bangalore, India.

Alarmed by the rapid degradation of the coastal ecosystem and the potential danger it poses to people living along the coast, the Karnataka forest department has devised a plan to prevent further damage to the beaches.

An increase in population density and economic activities in the coastal zones is pressuring the ecosystem, which can lead to loss of biodiversity, coral reef bleaching, new diseases among organisms, hypoxia, reduced water quality, and a threat to human health due to toxins in fish and algae.

Since about 60 percent of the world’s population lives within 62 miles from an ocean, any catastrophe along coastlines will cause huge loss of life. The forest department wants to prevent such disaster by fortifying the coastal regions. It is planning a "green shield" at all the beaches in the three coastal districts of the state — from Thalapady near Mangalore to Karwar, a stretch of 192 miles.

The "shield" will be a three-tier green cover with different types of coastal vegetation. Said Manjunath Shetty, asistant conservator of forests, Kundapur subdivision, “A green carpet of ipoma biloma, a creeper which grows at beaches and pins sand to the ground, will comprise the first tier. It will provide adequate cover to the beach wildlife, like small amphibian crustaceans, turtles, and snakes.

"The second tier will be made of Vetiver, an aromatic plant known for its thick network of roots and medicinal applications.

“A thick cover of trees like casuarina, calophyllum and honge (pongamia pinnata) will make up the third tier.”

A 109-mile “green shield” will soon come up in the three coastal districts of Udupi (between Karnad and Shiroor), Uttara Kannada (from Bhatkal to Karwar), and Dakshina Kannada (from Thalapady to Karnad).

Another ‘green shield’ had been set up at Kodi Kanyana sea face in Kundapur division, Shetty said. “Chief minister BS Yeddyurappa will inspect it on August 13,” he said.

“Over the centuries, due to human intervention, beaches have lost their natural vegetative cover,"said Ananth Hegde Ashisara, chairman, Karnataka Board of Biodiversity and also Western Ghats Task Force. “No human effort will be able to arrest the advance of the sea under such conditions. But nature can repair some of the damage if we initiate natural re-generation," he said.

“The green shield will protect people from disasters like tsunami, hurricane and metallic corrosion due to saline winds,” Sundar Naik, additional principal conservator of forests, added.

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