KOCHI: A cursory search on the internet will show you the alarming rate at which the mangrove cover is disappearing across the country. Kochi city and its neighbouring islands are no exception. However, a recent initiative called Project Green Belt is trying to reverse the situation one sapling at a time.
Project Green Belt is the brainchild of bicycle evangelist Abraham Clancy Ross, one of the directors of The Bike store in Palarivattom. The initiative started last month involved around 100 eco-conscious Kochiites planting 200 mangrove saplings on the coast of Mulavukad island. “The event in August was the first in a series of such initiative, we plan to do this once every month. The response was overwhelming considering it was an introductory programme,” says Abraham. The next edition which is called Version 1.2 is set to be held on September 22.
“We have already received over 60 registrations. On 22nd, the participants will cycle from the store and reach Mulavukad via Container Road. Two teams will be formed, while one team will plant saplings along the shore, the other will venture into the wetlands to do the same. We expect people from all walks of life to join in,” says the 49-year-old green warrior.
Abraham has sought help from corporates for the project as part of their CSR policy. “Some companies have come forward to help. We have associated with Dream Flower Housing Projects Private Limited for the upcoming edition,” he notes. The project has also collaborated with Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department and Sacred Heart College. “The college has included the initiative in their National Service Scheme charter and the students participated last month. This time, they are going to conduct a session on the importance of mangroves,” Abraham adds.
The conception of the project happened over a year ago in the aftermath of 2018 floods. Abraham pondered on what he could do to mitigate another disaster when he came across a man called Murugesan who runs a mangrove nursery at his home in Vypeen and has single-handedly planted numerous saplings along the coast. “The nursery Murugesan runs has close to 15,000 saplings, he grows them in bamboo containers with the help of Kerala Forests Department. He sought help from me and I told him that we can amass more people to aid his efforts and see to it that his saplings find a proper place,” says Abraham.