This programme aims at Development of an Ecosystem approach for integrated management of land, water, and living resources in and around Paravur Lake and Ithikkara River. The Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) approach is being developed by involving the local community, Local Self Government (LSG) Institutions and next generation citizens. Name of other Institutions/Organizations participating in the program are
– Mayyanad Gramapanchayat, (Local Self Government Institution)
– Social Forestry Department, Kollam, Kerala (Local Forestry office of Kerala Government)
– Mayyanad High School, Kollam Kerala
– Local Fishermen Community
– Paravur Lake and Ithikkara River Protection Council

Project Brief

HELP Foundation’s ‘Haritha Theeram’ is a partnershipbased initiative promoting investment in coastal ecosystems for sustainable development. HELP Foundation provides a collaborative platform to help coastal communities; local bodies and the next generation (local school) to tackle the growing challenges to coastal sustainability. Haritha Theeram has adopted mangroves based ecosystem in recognition of the severe effect on coastal livelihoods all along the Paravur Lake and the Ithikkara river, cauased by the loss and degradation of mangroves and also the important role that mangrove forests played in reducing the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Mangroves, River Fishes, Lake Fishes, Otters, various other special purpose micro organisms and a host of other aspects of nature that formed an unique ecosystem in Paravur Lake are no more. Habitat degradation is happening at such an alarming rate. It all started with HELP research activity which started to study the local ecosystem and the findings were published as a paper in October-2011. To restore the breeding grounds, HELP Foundation in partnership with the local Indigenous people at Lakshmipuram Thoppu embarked upon a mangrove plantation drive with support from the Mayyanad Gramapanchayat and Social Forestry Division Kerala. Mayyanad High school students too are also partnering us in this unique endeavor so that the next generation of citizens is involved in the protection, conservation & restoration of Paravur Lake. We had planted over 1000 mangrove saplings in the first phase (2011-12). HELP Foundations Haritha Theeram in its second phase (2012-13) planted 250 saplings and in the third phase (2013-14) planted 350 saplings and we continue to work towards achieving the vision of a healthier, more prosperous and secure future for all coastal communities. In the month of December-2014,we have planted 2000 additional saplings raised in our own nursery along the banks of Paravur Lake in association with Mayyanad Panchayat. HELP has since moved to a standalone mode where our mangrove nursery has acquired a more professional dimension and we continue to plant mangroves on a regular basis along Paravur Lake. The mission of HELP Foundation is to promote healthy coastal ecosystems through a partnership-based, people-focused, policy relevant and investment-orientated approach, which builds and applies knowledge, empowers communities and other stakeholders, enhances governance, secures livelihoods, and increases resilience to natural hazards and climate change.

Participation of Public and Private Sector

This project is executed by both HELP Foundation together with the Local Administration and the Local Community with monitoring and observations done by the Students and Staff from the Green Club of the Local School. Primarily the association is to combine the scientific and Technical Expertise of HELP Foundation, together with the deep rooted indigenous understanding of the local fishing society and infrastructural facility of the local administrative bodies.

Anticipated Benefits on Implementation of the Project

Given the deterioration of ecosystem along the Paravur Lake and Ithikkara River the effect on livelihood pushing out the unskilled fishermen to pick up other jobs outside of their skill set has been severe. Apart from fishing, Fishermen used to collect sand without affecting the breeding grounds of fishes. Now powerful motors hidden miles away suck out sand leading to edges caving in and destroying breeding grounds all over the water bodies in Kerala. Lack of bamboo and its varieties along the banks of the water bodies has affected the indigenous people who make a living out of baskets and other house old utensils. Its lack of raw material and inability to rely on natural ecosystem more than anything that is leading to this huge loss of livelihood and displacement. Sustainable use of water over generations has been ensured through cultural adaptation to water and living in harmony with nature’s ways. However in the last three to four decades at least in an Indian context the consequences of urbanization and adaptation to the consumer culture have taken its toll on water bodies. Ill conceived developmental policies to suit the needs of business or commercial interests have had detrimental effect on our water bodies and the ecosystem surrounding it. Water Resource Management or maintenance of our water bodies has been shoddy at best. The changes in water use patterns for industry & cultivation, and attempts to tamper with the natural water bodies and its flow patterns have caused enormous loss to the state of Kerala in terms of natural fishing harbors& livelihood of the indigenous communities. To really quantify the impact we would need to conduct a survey all along the entire stretch of Ithikkara River and Paravur Lake.

Programme Overview

The severe effect on coastal livelihoods caused by the loss and degradation of mangroves has been alarming along the Kerala cost especially to traditional indigenous people. However other coastal ecosystems, including estuaries, lagoons, wetlands, beaches are also of keen interest to us .Coastal ecosystems, and the well-being of their inhabitants, are influenced not just by activities carried out in the coastal zone, but also by those happening further inland.Some of the world’s poorest and backward people are those whose livelihoods depend directly on nature and on the benefits that nature provides. Almost all of these communities are backward in nature. Activities such as fishing, harvesting wild food, fodder for livestock, medicinal plants, fuel wood, and timber are often central to the livelihoods of impoverished families, leaving them highly vulnerable to the effects of ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. Evidences of climate change impact are already visible in vegetation, hydrology, and rising temperature affecting normal plant productivity and ecosystem services in Kerala. Indigenous people mostly backward communities like fishermen, coir workers traditional artisans etc whose livelihood is based on the state of natural resources are hard hit when such changes occur. Since the livelihood of the indigenous people is less diverse than that of migrant settlers, it is important to understand the level of climate impact on livelihoods of the indigenous backward community, without which it will be difficult to plan support program in order to enhance their resilience towards the impact of climate change.

More importantly their livelihood needs to be protected; in turn this leads to conserving of nature. Today most backward fishermen community people are in search of various other livelihood means as they are unable to lead a natural life in their coastal habitats and surrounding due to encroachment and plunder of marine wealth and natural resources. International Policy maker’s supports collaborative conservation approaches that respect and contribute to community rights and livelihoods. The belief is that partnerships must be based on
1. Appreciation for the contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities to conservation
2. Recognition of their rights and interests
3. Understanding the links between biological and cultural diversity