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Pune wetlands near Sahyadri ranges flourishing with aquatic plants: Study

As many as 198 out of the 457 taxa in the region have been found not susceptible to any kind of existential crisis, at present.

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune | January 10, 2021 8:51:26 pm
Pune wetland study, aquatic plants,The riverine wetlands within city limits of Pune were found to be increasingly flourishing with invasive weeds, like hyacinth – a common sight along the banks of Mula and Mutha rivers in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. (Express Photo)

Wetlands located close to plateaus in and around Pune district have been found thriving with a variety of macrophytes, aquatic plants, showing considerable seasonal variations.

A botanist couple – Savita and Sanjaykumar Rahangdale – undertook a nine-year-long study of wetlands in the district. They recorded 67 endemic taxa (group of organisms) and labelled four to be facing some degree of threat to their existence in the region.

The angiosperm macrophytes facing danger in the district, covering a geographical area of 15,642 square metres, include Eriocaulon santapaui, which is labelled as ‘critically endangered’, whereas Iphigenia stellata, Eriocaulon richardianum and Dimeria hohenackeri are ‘endangered’ and Isachne bicolor and Utricularia albocaerulea are ‘vulnerable’.

As many as 198 out of the 457 taxa in the region have been found not susceptible to any kind of existential crisis, at present.

“A majority of the macrophytes were found along wetlands located adjacent to the Sahyadri mountains. Even though they have a short life span coinciding with that of a season, they showcased excellent seasonal variety. Newer macrophytes got accommodated in these wetlands with each passing season, a variety not observed in the riverine or wetlands in the district,” said lead researcher Sanjaykumar Rahangdale from the Department of Botany at Annasaheb Waghire College, Otur.

Of the over two lakh wetlands in India, 23,046 are found in Maharashtra.

Home to three rivers like Mula-Mutha, Neera and Ghod-Bhima along with numerous small and big reservoirs, Pune also has 11 wetlands.

“The biodiversity in the four natural wetlands was much greater than the man-made ones. We need to maintain and preserve the wetlands, as they are important for maintaining the right balance of our ecosystem. Wetlands are responsible for purifying water before it occupies as groundwater,” said Rahangdale.

However, the riverine wetlands within city limits of Pune were found to be increasingly flourishing with invasive weeds, like hyacinth – a common sight along the banks of Mula and Mutha rivers in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.

“In the last decade itself, these invasive weeds have captured and expanded their area. This is mainly due to the rising pollution levels in the rivers,” the researcher said.

“In addition to pollutants, unchecked encroachments into wetlands for settlements or other purposes, too, are posing serious threat to the aquatic plants here,” he said.

But, since 2018, the state Forest department has undertaken several measures to conserve the biodiversity of the wetlands. For instance, locals living near Durgawadi plateau, situated about 30km from Junnar, have been made aware of the significance of the wetlands. Locals are refrained from performing open cooking or burning of firewood, for which the department has arranged alternate facilities.

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