10 February 2017, Kotagiri: Keystone celebrated World Wetlands Day with school students from Kotagiri. Gokul, along with Ranjith and Rilson, Community Resource Persons for the Water programme, engaged with 30 students from Satyakaathi School who visited the campus. The students were given a talk on the wonder and importance of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve with emphasis on wetlands and their conservation. After the movie on the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, ‘A Fragile Treasure’, the children were taken for a walk through Happy Valley and the adjoining wetland which is one of drinking water sources for Kotagiri town. Habitat restoration in Happy Valley began in 2006 and has been an ongoing Keystone project for 10 years now. After having seen the restored patch and the spring box for themselves, the children were able to understand how much care and time it takes for nature to heal herself.
The Water Resources team also visited St Mary’s Home School, Vishwashanti Vidhyalaya Matriculation School and International Community School. The movie, “A Fragile Treasure” was screened for the children after discussing the importance of wetlands with them. Drawing competitions on the theme of wetlands was organised where almost 60 children from St. Mary’s and Vishwashanti schools participated in them.
Wetlands are ecotones or borders between land and water zones that are usually covered by shallow water for long periods. Wetlands are natural water treatment plants and the wetland plants (rushes, sedges, ferns, etc.) are adapted to be able to removed dissolved salts and organic compounds from surrounding water. While this link has always been understood and accepted, the need for more and more land to be made available for development infrastructure, realty and agriculture is creating an unimaginable pressure on the wetlands and they are shrinking rapidly. Also, the kind of pollutants found today in water is no longer the traditional organic kind. This is hampering the wetland’s ability to filter out the contaminants.
This year’s World Wetland Day was themed ‘Wetlands for Disaster Management’. Against the backdrop of the water scarcity that Kotagiri is facing now because of urbanisation and shrinking or damaged wetlands, we hope that these school interactions supported by Arghyam will leave a lasting impression on these young minds about the importance of conserving wetland and their catchment areas.