Environmental crisis is looming higher on the horizon with unpredictable natural disasters, extinction of species and increased global warming. It’s time to accept that climate change is real you guys and if we don’t work toward conserving the planet, we’ll slowly see the world disintegrating right in front of our eyes! Thankfully, there are enlightened and proactive souls who relentlessly work toward mitigating this crisis in full force! A case in point is Murukesan TP, a 53-year-old fisherman who has helped in the plantation of over 75,000+ mangrove trees across coastlines, brackish water areas and forests.
The fisherman from Vypin, Kerala, works with the Social Forestry Department in the Ernakulam district in plantation drives. He has also created a small nursery at his home where he grows over 15,000 saplings in a year, which he sells to the Forest Department for Rs. 14 per sapling.
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“I started doing this because of environmental concerns. Cyclones are becoming more frequent and pollution is increasing rapidly. Mangroves, which are common here, were drastically reducing in number,” says the concerned fisherman.
Murukesan’s concerns are something we need to pay attention to. The Ocean Conference conducted by the United Nations, provided some severe numbers. It said that 80 per cent of pollution in all seas and oceans comes from land-based activities, with 51 trillion microplastic particles littering the oceans.
Additionally, the rising sea levels will lead to coastal erosion, inundation, storm floods, loss of nesting beaches, displacement of coastal lowlands and wetlands among several other detrimental effects.
They also found that 20 per cent of global mangroves have been lost since 1980. However, Murukesan realises their importance. Mangroves protect coastlines by acting like a fence, providing protection from hurricanes, storms, strong tidal waves and floods.
How it all began
Murukesan was born in a fisherman’s family and has been fishing since he was 20 years old. He would venture out to the sea with country boats and gradually shifted to fishing in motor boats. As he got older, he decided to move on to freshwater and backwater fishing.
Working as a fisherman, he knows the importance of mangrove forests. These diverse ecosystems supply rich food to aquatic life. Marine life is attracted to these forests as they are high on food availability, the water is cooler and there is a high oxygen content in the water in which they are submerged.
“Mangroves help in reproduction and breeding of fish. Trawlers that we see so very often are detrimental to marine life and inhibit natural breeding of fish. With mangrove plantations, the local fisherman will also benefit greatly in addition to the positive environmental impacts,” says Murukesan.
Murukesan has now already worked on plantation drives in Cherai, Njarackal, North Mulavakkad, Vallarpadam and Chellanam in collaboration with the forest department.
Renjit MK, 37, Forest Range Officer, says that alongwith Murukesan, they are going to plant 15,000 more saplings by the end of October in the Wellington Island area.
“The Forest Department started this with Murukesan because this would protect us from sea surges, is good for the aquatic life, would benefit the fishing community and would protect against cyclones. Once these have been planted, he is the one who looks after them and ensures they are growing healthily,” he says.
These days, Murukesan works until 11 PM every night in preparation for the next plantation. In his home nursery, he is carefully growing little saplings in bamboo sleeves which replaced plastic grow bags. At home, Murukesan is helped by his wife Geetha, his daughters Nimitha and Ninitha, and his seven year old grandson.
“I hope that people understand the importance of growing trees and conserving them. If every person plants even one single tree in their life, it will greatly benefit the planet,” says the protector of mangroves, signing off.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)