Activities Mangrove Planting

Planting Mangroves in artificially created habitat.

In the last weeks of Monsoon, we have decided to experiment a new method of planting Mangroves. Just as a pilot project of planting Mangrove saplings parallel to the sea wall for one kilometre. Instead of just planting the seedlings in the coastal loose sand, the seedlings are to be planted in an artificially created habitat for the mangroves to grow. If the pilot project proved well, our final goal is to plant seedlings of mangrove and associated species at the trance-Vypin coastal line, which is approximately 20 km excluding Elankunnappuzha Grama Panchayaths.

  1. Finding the geographical area for the project.
  2. There are six panchayaths in Vypin Island.
  3. Elankunnappuzha
  4. Narakkal
  5. Nayarambalam
  6. Edavanakkad
  7. Kuzhuppilly
  8. Pallippuram

At Elankunnappuzha Gram Panchayath, there are already a significant presence of Mangrove and associated species. Since the area is under the control of BPCL and LNG Petronet Project (Central Govt. Project), no private groups are authorized to access the land. The dominant species in this area include Avicennia Marina and Avicennia Officinalis. And Rhizophora apiculata is also present but is less common. Rest of the island, we have to maintain the currently available species and plant more saplings.

For the pilot project, the following area is selected.

  1. 10°03’10.4″N 76°12’53.2″E
    (Veliyathamparambu, Puthan Kadappuram, Nayarambalam)1
  2. 10°03’44.9″N 76°11’58.3″E
    (Palam, Puthan Kadappuram, Nayarambalam)
  3. 10.07132° N, 76.19729° E
    (Thayyezhuthu Beach, Puthan Kadappuram, Nayarambalam)

On the specified three sites mentioned above, Grassroute already has planted more than thousands of mangrove saplings and associated species and still maintaining it on a daily and weekly basis.

Mangrove and associate species – an introduction

Mangroves include trees, shrubs and creepers. There are special types of plants that grow in or near mangrove forests. They are referred to as mangrove-associates. Of the 59 species of mangroves found in India, 18 are recorded in Kerala. A study conducted by the Kerala Forest Research Institute has found that there are 18 species of pure mangroves and 54 species of mangrove-associates statewide.

Major species found in Ernakualm District

Rhizophora mucronata (പീക്കണ്ടൽ orപ്രാന്തൻ കണ്ടൽ), Rhizophora apiculata (വള്ളിക്കണ്ടൽ), Bruguiera cylindrica (കുറ്റിക്കണ്ടൽ), Aegiceras corniculatum (പൂക്കണ്ടൽ)

Collecting saplings

The mangrove species mentioned above are widely available in these areas. Even though we can collect locally grown seedlings, we prefer to buy scientifically grown and more viable saplings of Rhizophora mucronata from the following sources:

  1. School of Fishery Environment, Puthuvype, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS)
  2. Private Individual Mr Murugeshan, who won the 24th P V Thampy memorial endowment award1 for environmental protection.

Method of planting

Instead of just planting seedlings in the coastal sand, the seedlings should be planted in an artificially created habitat for the mangroves to grow. For this, we plan to dig a trench with one-meter width, one-meter depth and 100 meters of one km length. This project is a pilot project.
Our ultimate aim is to plant as many mangrove saplings in a trench with 10 – 20 meters width and one-meter depth on the Vypin coastal line and then to extend it to the entire Kerala Coastal line.

The Execution

Saturday / 6th November, 2021

At Thayyezhuthu Beach, volunteers dug a ten-meter length, one-meter breadth and one-meter depth canal. Work started at 4:45 PM and finished the job at 6:50 PM. There were six volunteers who actively participated in the event.

Sunday / 7th November, 2021

Collected silt from Aniyil (a nearby place) Fish pond, Edavanakkad and deposited it in the pit we dug on the previous day. As the next layer, we filled dried leaves and paddy straws. And on top of that, we poured cow dung.

The artificial habitat is ready. Now we need to plant the mangroves in the pit.

Thursday / 11th November, 2021

Again we manually collected some more silt from a nearby fish pond, owned by Dhananjayan, a Grassroute member. And topped it up on the pit.

Friday, 12th November, 2021

Planting cememony

The planting ceremony was started at 3:30 PM. Mrs Neetu Binod, President, Nayarambalam Panchayath inaugurated the programme. Mrs C.C. Siji, the ward member, 12th Ward Nayarambalam planted the first seedling. Seed Club students led by teachers Mrs Sushila Gopinath, Mrs Tessie John and Beena George from Bhavans Vidyamandir, Elamakkara, teachers Mrs Reni Daniel and Mrs Sisy from SBOA School, Chittoor, and Rajagiri Outreach Students led by the co-ordinator Mr Ranjith K.U., MGNREGA workers and native people participated in the project.

Mangrove planting schemes are being organized extensively across the state under the leadership of various environmental organizations, nature lovers and the government. But no one has yet experimented to create a suitable environment for mangroves in parallel to the sea-wall. This is an experimental project. If it becomes successful, it will be proved that instead of demolishing the Western Ghats and building a sea wall with heavy rocks, it will be possible to build a stronger and sustainable biological sea wall with mangroves along the entire coast of Kerala.

Said K.K. Reghuraj, Farm Superintendent, KUFOS, addressing the function.

Maintenance of the project

Just planting is easy to do. The maintenance part is tougher and harder. Anyway, Team grasroute is pledged to maintain it on a periodic basis. Next thing is to do a detailed plan for maintenance.

By Thomas

Thomas is the founding secretary of grassroute. He lives in Kochi, India.