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Mangroves in Kerala’s Puthuvypeen Losing Ground to Rampant Urbanisation

Extreme deprivation of Mangroves in the area was identified based on a non-linear model, and the researchers were able to note the changes from mangrove area to water and built-up areas.

Sambhav Kumar
Extreme deprivation of Mangroves in the area was identified based on a non-linear model.
Extreme deprivation of Mangroves in the area was identified based on a non-linear model.

Space Applications Centre (SAC-ISRO) and Kerela University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) conducted a joint operation in which an abrupt decline of 42 percent is being observed in Mangrove ecosystem in district Ernakulam, and a major decrease is seen in Puthuvypeen near Kochi.  The reason behind this is a large-scale development project in the area. 

Explaining the nuances of technology, K Riji John, Vice Chancellor of KUFOS said that the researchers utilized satellite images Landsat 5 & 8, NASA to detect the rapid changes over the last two decades. Extreme deprivation of Mangroves in the area was identified based on a non-linear model, and the researchers were able to note the changes from mangrove areas to water and built-up areas.

Near-infrared electromagnetic spectrum and reflectance properties of mangrove vegetation, water, and urban zones in visible radiation were studied to differentiate between mangroves and non-mangrove areas and identify the non-linear changes over mangrove forests.

Anthropogenic activities leading to the deprivation

It is discovered that for over a decade mangrove depletion has been activated due to human activities. However, monitoring the activities is challenging because of the inaccessible and harsh nature of the mangrove ecosystems, said John.

Earlier the area around Puthuvypeen was densely covered by mangrove vegetation but, it has been severely declining due to several port-related infrastructure projects, dumping of waste, disturbing the natural course of seawater, etc. Constructions and other landfilling activities, the salt water supply to the mangroves was cut off also causing depletion.

Way forward toward the crisis

Although, an area near container road in Mulavukad showed a positive figure in mangrove replenishment, which is motivating the state for bringing the region back to its pre-damaged state.

This is an unprecedented technological advancement when images over a decade were utilized to identify the degradation of mangroves.

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