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Vembanad Lake is under threat of ecological decay despite being declared a Ramsar site 20 years ago

Vembanad Lake in Kerala is the second-largest wetland system in the country after the Sunderbans in West Bengal. It was declared a Ramsar site 20 years ago, yet continues to undergo ecological degradation due to pollution and unauthorised constructions on its banks.

A source of livelihood for farmers of Kuttanad and the fisherfolk community, Vembanad is the longest lake in the country, bound by the districts of Alappuzha, Kottayam and Ernakulam.

Experts like E J James, who was part of the panel which had pushed for Vembanad to be declared a Ramsar site, believe the steps that the state government claims to be taking remain on paper and fail to be implemented at the ground level.

"After it was declared a Ramsar site, hardly anything has been done to protect the wetland system or maintain the ecological balance there," claimed James.

A M Ariff, CPI(M) MP from Alappuzha, voiced a similar opinion, "The state government is taking steps, but it is not enough. A lot of projects were announced with regard to conservation of the lake, but they are yet to be implemented."

Read more: Vembanad lake continues to shrink, decay 20 years after being declared Ramsar site | The Hindu

Scenes fom Vembanad lake en route Alappuzha, Kottayam  | Nature inFocus
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"Vembanad is the longest lake in the country, bound by the districts of Alappuzha, Kottayam and Ernakulam [in Kerala]." Photograph by Vinayaraj via Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license

₹920 crore greening project begins in Tamil Nadu to combat climate change

The biodiversity conservation and greening project for climate change response that the Tamil Nadu government signed with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will begin this month.

The project aims to mitigate and adapt to climate change and improve the ecosystem, thereby contributing to sustainable socio-economic development in Tamil Nadu. Though JICA has implemented afforestation projects in Tamil Nadu since 1997, this is the first time that JICA specifies “climate change” in the project name with the consensus of the Government of India and Japan.

The expected outcomes from the project by the year 2032 include an increase in carbon storage by 4 lakh MT, restoration of 3.6ha of coral reef area, an increase of mangrove cover over an area of 1050ha, and capacity building for 5400 departmental staff, among others.

Read more: ₹920 crore greening project for climate change response in Tamil Nadu to take off this month | The Hindu

Photograph of a mangrove forest at Pichavaram, Tamil Nadu | Nature inFocus
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Photograph of a mangrove forest at Pichavaram, Tamil Nadu, for representation purposes only, by Karthik Easvur via Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Andhra Pradesh Forest Department to roll out mobile application to save the endangered Whale Shark

Following International Whale Shark Day on August 30, the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department announced its plans to install a monitoring system for the world's largest fish species. Ahead of the seasonal aggregation of Whale Sharks along the Andhra Pradesh coast that starts in October and goes on till March, the department hopes to utilise a mobile application and the power of citizen science to monitor these gentle giants of the sea.

“Fishermen can capture pictures and upload them in the app. This will give us a fair picture about the range of this marine species. We can stop or limit the movement of marine vessels wherever there is a congregation of the species. This exercise will also help us gather data from this region on this endangered species, and in the process, help us sensitise the fishing community on the need to protect it,” says District Forest Officer, Visakhapatnam, Anant Shankar.

Read more: In Visakhapatnam, efforts are on to save the endangered whale sharks | The Hindu

Whale Shark in La Paz Mexico | Nature inFocus
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"The [Andhra Pradesh Forest] department hopes to utilise a mobile application and the power of citizen science to monitor these gentle giants of the sea." File photograph of a Whale Shark by Matthew T Rader via Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license

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International

Patagonia founder donates $3 billion company to fight the climate crisis

Founder of the apparel wear company Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, his spouse and two adult children are giving away ownership of the company to help fight the climate crisis. 

The company expects to contribute about $100 million a year, depending on the health of the business. Patagonia's non-voting stock will now be owned by a climate-focused trust and a group of nonprofit organisations—the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective. In a letter published on the company website, Chouinard wrote, "Each year, the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis."

"If we have any hope of a thriving planet—much less a thriving business—50 years from now, it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have."

Read more: Patagonia founder donates entire company to fight climate change | CNBC

  Photograph of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard | Nature inFocus
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File photograph of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard fishing in Grand Teton National Park, USA, by Sam Beebe via Flickr under the CC BY-NC 2.0 license

UK’s Wainwright Prize for nature writing announces 2022 winners

Wildlife cameraman James Aldred’s Goshawk Summer, a diary of his time observing a family of goshawks in the New Forest, was named the winner of the James Cropper Wainwright nature writing prize. TV presenter Ray Mears, chair of the judges, called the book a 'beautiful inspirational tale set in an extraordinary time'. “Nature is abundant all around us, if only we could take the time to really look for it,” Mears said. “This wonderful book shows us how.”

The inaugural prize for children's writing on nature and conservation went to brothers Rob and Tom Sears for The Biggest Footprint. Dan Saladino's Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them won the prize for writing on conservation.

Read more: Wainwright nature writing prize goes to ‘inspirational’ Goshawk Summer | The Guardian

   Goshawk Summer by James Aldred | Nature inFocus
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James Aldred's Goshawk Summer was named the winner of the James Cropper Wainwright nature writing prize.

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