Mangroves thriving anew -Ayiramthengu

Once on the brink of extinction, the mangrove forest at Ayiramthengu in Kollam district is now home to a variety of flora and fauna.

A 25-acre spread of mangroves at Ayiramthengu in Kollam district that was on the brink of extinction 10 years ago is today a thriving ecosystem. It is the habitat of a number of creatures, marine and terrestrial.The transformation from a haven for illicit breweries to that of various flora and fauna is an example of how mangrove forests can be revived with the right initiative. Ten years ago, trees in the forest were felled and used as fuel for the breweries. Within a couple of years, the forest started vanishing and the ecosystem it supported stood threatened. The area began turning into a mudflat.

It was then that the State Fisheries Department stepped in with a restoration programme. A team under the leadership of K.M. Lethi, the then Deputy Director of the department, camped at Ayiramthengu and planted nearly 10,000 red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) saplings. Security personnel were posted to protect the saplings and keep anti-social elements away.

Their efforts paid rich dividends. The saplings have now grown into trees to create a lush, green cover. In between the red mangroves, the rare Lumnitzera racemosa species of mangroves can also be seen. The trunks and roots of these trees are the habitat of a number of creatures. The mangroves are a nursery for a wide variety of fish fries. The forest is also home to a colony of otters. The glittering, waxy green canopy of the forest provides a nesting place for a wide variety of migratory birds. Efforts are now on to convert another 25 acres in the area into a mangrove forest.

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