Balaji Vedharajan’s story: Mangrove Restoration for Sustainable Fishery in Palk Bay, India

Grown up mangrove trees planted by OMCAR Foundation with the participation of local community
© omcar foundation

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There should be a commitment, endurance and self-motivation among young people to come forward to spend their time and energy for conservation. When we have a good young conservation leader in every locality, there will be well protected sites in every part of our globe. It is our duty to act, to be a role model and to convey the conservation message to next generation.

In 2002, I did 1100 km bike expedition along the coast for marine awareness. In 2006, I rowed a kayak all alone 600 km for creating awareness. While keeping up my education up to PhD, I also spent time with school students for marine education.

I understood the need for technical knowledge such as mangrove restoration techniques, nursery techniques and GIS for implementing various conservation goals. I got financial support from Light House Foundation, Germany. So, I spent every day to learn, develop and apply those techniques and bind traditional knowledge from fishers.

Our participatory mangrove GIS project is an example, where fisher women drawn their village, which then converted into digital GIS maps to use for community decision making in land use pattern. I developed a low cost GIS mapping strategy for this project.

My mangrove restoration vision has been passed on to hundreds of youths, women and fishers, who work with us through backyard nurseries, school mangrove nurseries and restoration site maintenance. It resulted the restoration and extension of degraded mangroves in our region. Still I go underwater, took photographs of fishes and plants.

My underwater videos showed to every student in local schools. During my visits abroad, I took photographs of nature in that country, and compared it with our own local nature – which is an interesting lesson for students. I wrote popular articles often in local state newspaper to stress the need for the conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems by sharing by research findings. I remember that I dreamed of becoming a marine biologist in my teenage, and feeling very happy as it becomes my full time profession and everyday life now.

From my little experience in life, I can say that any youth from any part of the world can become a conservation leader with self motivation, commitment and passion on nature to create a “Wilder World”.


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