Students and researchers turned budding environmentalists n Thursday as part of World Wetlands Day celebrations at K J Somaiya college,suggesting ways to turn Mumbais wetlands into eco-tourism spots.
As part of their environment festival Convergence,the Department of Environmental Science of K J Somaiya College of Science and Commerce had organised a technical paper presentation and poster making competition to celebrate World Wetlands Day,observed worldwide on February 2 every year.
The date marks the day when Ramsar Convention,an international treaty to protect wetlands all over the globe,came into existence in 1971.
The theme for the competition was taken from the official theme for World Wetlands Day 2012,Wetland and Tourism.
Research papers on all types of wetlands such as lakes,creeks,beaches,rivers,mangroves,estuaries,marshes etc were presented,stressing on the threats faced by these ecosystems such as reclamation due to development,pollution due to dumping of garbage and release of effluents.
The planet has lost 35 per cent of its mangroves in the last 20 years and if the current rate of destruction continues,all the worlds mangroves will disappear in 50 years, said student Sarita Joshi from B N Bandodkar College of Science,Thane.
Schools like Billabong High School,Thane drew attention to issues affecting coral reef such as blast fishing where fisherman throw dynamite in water,which instantly destroys the entire coral belt and fishing using cyanide poisoning,which stuns the fish and makes it easy for them to be picked.
Wetlands are important as they provide shoreline protection by preventing floods,absorb carbon dioxide,improve water quality by acting as a natural filter and house rich aquatic life,which help to maintain ecological balance, said Class IX student Vishal Behra of Sanjivani International School,Kharghar.
Meanwhile,National Environmental Engineering Research Institute(NEERI) said it has come up with a unique way for wetlands to be used. We have a constructed wetland on campus,which is an artificial wetland made by planting various species of plants. We carried out experiments to treat waste water and have found it working with 70 to 90 per cent efficiency. We use the treated water for gardening, said Archita Gupta from NEERI.
Understanding the importance of conservation of wetlands,students presented various ways of doing so,chiefly tourism. We have a wetland right beside our school,which is in ruin due to urbanisation and its proximity to the Taloga industries. We are proposing to CIDCO for the site to be made a bird sanctuary as it houses various endemic species. This will help conserve biodiversity and generate profits,without harming the wetlands, said Tanya Jain,Behras classmate.
Beautification methods can include landscaping and making rock gardens,Behra added. Others suggested areas such as Thane Creek and Dombivili as potential eco-tourism sites.