Why restoring the Myristica wetlands matters locally?
Myristica swamps in India’s Western Ghats are a unique ecosystem, vital for biodiversity and important for carbon sequestration, climate regulation and water management. These wetlands, characterized by Myristica trees, are home to several critically endangered species such as the Lion-tailed macaque, White-bellied treepie, and the Great Indian hornbill. These species are found nowhere else in the world and their survival is closely linked to the preservation of Myristica swamps.
Carbon sequestration and climate regulation are another reason to restore these ancient swamps. These wetlands sequester large amounts of carbon, which helps mitigate climate change. Additionally, they help regulate local climate by reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the ground, which can help mitigate the effects of heat waves.
Water management and flood control are additional benefits of restoring Myristica swamps. These wetlands act as natural water filters, purifying water and preventing soil erosion. Additionally, they act as natural sponges, absorbing and slowly releasing water, which can help reduce the risk of flooding. This makes Myristica swamps an important tool for managing water resources and reducing the impact of floods in the region.
Why support Snehakunja?
Snehakunja Trust, established in 1976, has been protecting sensitive wetland and coastal ecosystems in the Western Ghats and the Karnataka coast for 45 years. With a focus on community-based restoration and conservation, the organization provides essential solutions to the climate crisis.
It has supported hundreds of self-help groups and village forest committees to sustainably manage resources based on traditional knowledge, implement natural farming techniques, use clean energy, promote entrepreneurship, and provide community health services. The restoration and protection of freshwater swamps and evergreen forests safeguards endangered species, keeps significant carbon sinks intact, and maintains critical aquifers for Indigenous communities. The Trust has also restored 375 hectares of mangroves and is currently piloting the first blue carbon project in India. In recognition of their efforts, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) awarded them the 2021 Equator Prize.
Why restoring these wetlands matter globally
The ancient Myristica wetlands are home to a variety of plant and animal species that are not found anywhere else in the world. However, due to human activities such as deforestation and land conversion, these swamps are now under threat and are considered to be one of the most endangered ecosystems in India.
Habitat restoration is crucial in ensuring the survival of these unique wetlands and the biodiversity they support. Efforts to restore and protect these swamps can help to safeguard endangered species, maintain important carbon sinks, and provide critical water resources for indigenous communities. By working to restore these ancient ecosystems, we can help to ensure that the unique biodiversity they contain is not lost forever.
Additionally, the Myristica swamps play a key role in mitigating the effects of climate change. They possess higher potential to store carbon than nearby non-swamp forests in the Western Ghats and can help to reduce the disastrous impacts of climate change, including flooding and storm surges. It is important to support organizations such as Snehakunja Trust in India which focus on community-based restoration and conservation of these wetlands and their unique biodiversity.
I am a development officer by profession with more than 12 years experience in environmental conservation and community development programs, motivated by tangible impact (benefits to community and biodiversity) due to my humble efforts in these fields.