|Ecosystem Type||Marine and coastal|
|Number of households||140|
|Number of people||-|
An 8-km stretch of coastal village commons faces the Arabian Sea on its western side and the Kottapuzha river draining on its eastern side. A 4-km stretch of coastal sandy beach as well as brackish mud flats can be seen in this area. Falling within the coastal eco-region of the state of Kerala, this area shows a typical coastal ecosystem with an estuarine region towards the northern part of the Community Conseved Area (CCA).
Mangroves grow in the brackishwater estuarine regions and attract a large number of attractive marine birds to this area. Turtles come to nest all along the 8-km stretch of beach starting from Kottapuzha estuary mouth in the north to Payyoli beach located in the south. The beach stretch is very narrow due to the severe coastal erosion that most of Kerala’s coastline experiences. The southern portion of the beach is now protected by a sea wall. The mean annual rainfall is 3,500 mm, with the annual temperature range between 20° C and 34° C.
This is traditionally a fishing community with the majority of the population of 135 families being Hindus (Thiyya community), with only five Muslim families. Like any other typical coastal village, this community too draws its major source of income from fishing in the sea. Apart from that they supplement their income through toddy tapping, exporting dried fish and selling coconuts from their private plantations. The secondary occupations include mostly self- employment opportunities such as working as trained electricians, autorickshaw drivers and casual labour, and running small bakeries or other kiosks. The current People’s Plan1 has helped the women in this village to set up and run two eateries, a dry rice mill and a sweetshop within the village. A few cattle are kept by some of the more prosperous families. These are either stall-fed or grazed on private land.
|Origin||New initiative by community|
|Year of Formation||-|
|Motivations||Natural habitat and species conservation|
Also known as Kotta Kadapuram, Kolavipaalam is the birthplace of Kunhali Marakkar, a famous maritime warrior of Kerala during the rule of the Zamorins (AD 1120–1498).
Although fishing continues to be the major occupation of the community here, the present generation of fishermen has either opted out of this traditional income source or has supplemented fishing with other sources of income.
Due to a pest attack of coconuts that has affected the coconut production in the state, toddy tapping has also been adversely affected. Dry fish export was a major cash earner for this village and had also employed around 500 fisherwomen. Due to the receding beach stretch, space is no longer available for the women to dry large quantities of fish. The number has now reduced to around 50 women.
Some amount of seashells are generally collected in the rainy months of June to August. Seashell mining met local needs for lime mortar (which is extracted from seashells) and also added to the small incomes of some of the families through sale outside the village.
Olive Ridley turtles came to nest on Kolavipaalam beach since time immemorial. In 1992, some of the youth of the village while reading the newspaper (The Hindu) came across an article that talked about the endangered status of the Olive Ridley turtles. It suddenly dawned on them that the marine turtles, which came to nest on their beach so regularly, needed protection, and this motivated them to act upon what nature had blessed them with.
1992- youth of the village became aware about the endangered status of Olive Ridley turtles, thus a group called Theeram Prakriti Samrakshana Samiti was formed.
1996- The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in charge,Mr. Amit Mallik, took interest in the effort. Later, in 1997, Mrs. Prakriti Srivastava, DFO, encouraged the local youth to keep watch over the beach by paying daily wages for four members during the nesting season and providing them with iron cages.
1998- The youth started an afforestation programme of mangroves when the forest department and other NGOs conducted nature camps and slide shows for the residents of this village.
1999 - Theeram Prakriti Samrakshana Samiti has filed a case in 1999 in the High Court against the sand mining lobby that is operating here. An interim stay order was granted by the court, but the enforcing authorities seem to be helpless in putting a stop to this.
2001- In January,, the sea tides destroyed the hatchery. This was a great setback to the young group’s efforts.
Olive Ridley turtles came to nest on Kolavipaalam beach since time immemorial. In 1992, some of the youth of the village while reading the newspaper (The Hindu) came across an article that talked about the endangered status of the Olive Ridley turtles. It suddenly dawned on them that the marine turtles, which came to nest on their beach so regularly, needed protection. This motivated them to act upon what nature had blessed them with.
|Collective of CCAs||-|
|Decision Making Body||Resource users|
|Rules and Regulations||Informal|
|Community activities through the year||Patrolling, watch and ward, Fencing|
It was mainly the youth of the village that was involved in the conservation efforts since they were the one who took the initiative. They formed a group called Theeram Prakriti Samrakshana Samiti with 12 members. The key persons in this effort are the present president of Theeram, Mr. Surendra Babu, and the Joint Secretary, Mr. K. Vijayan.
The group also met with active support from the forest department. The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in charge in 1996, Mr. Amit Mallik, took interest in the effort. Later, in 1997, Mrs. Prakriti Srivastava, DFO, encouraged the local youth to keep watch over the beach by paying daily wages for four members during the nesting season and providing them with iron cages.
On realising the important role of mangroves in the conservation of the coastal ecosystem, in 1998 the forest department and other NGOs conducted nature camps and slide shows for the residents of this village. The gram panchayat donated some amount to buy mangrove seeds from private sources in Kannoor. Theeram members encourage and involve the local residents as well as local school children in planting these saplings along the estuarine region of their area.
DECISION MAKING SYSTEMS
There was a traditional system of conflict resolution called kadal kodathys, where conflicts apart from natural resource conflicts were settled. These conflicts may be domestic in nature, such as disputes over property, marital matters, etc. Decisions arrived at these community courts were respected by the formal law and order system.
Most of the disputes were resolved at this community court level and very rarely did they spill over to the formal conflict resolution systems that were in place. The kadal kodathy of Kolaavipalam was situated in Payyoli, which is stated to be no longer functioning. However, there are other community courts, which are active and playing an important role in coastal areas north of Payyoli.
This community too draws its major source of income from fishing in the sea. Apart from that they supplement their income through toddy tapping, exporting dried fish and selling coconuts from their private plantations.
Due to the receding beach stretch, space is no longer available for the women to dry large quantities of fish. Some amount of seashells are generally collected in the rainy months of June to August. Seashell mining met local needs for lime mortar (which is extracted from seashells) and also added to the small incomes of some of the families through sale outside the village.
|Community Forest Resource Rights (CFR)||-|
|Date of filing CFR claim||-|
|Level of CFR claim||-|
|Date of recognition of CFR claim||-|
|Management plan status||-|
|Other Recognised Status||P.V. Thampy award in November 2000 for environmental protection through community participation|
P.V. Thampy award in November 2000 for environmental protection through community participation
|Impact on Livelihoods and Subsistence||Fish|
|Social Impacts||Community empowerment, Empowerment of women/youth/disadvantaged sections|
|Ecological Impact||Natural habitat preservation, Good diversity and population of wildlife, Good diversity of crops, livestock, fish, Improved/sustained ecological services|
|Internal Threats and Challenges||Conflict with other communities, Reduced awareness about biodiversity and its value|
|External Threats and Challenges||Restrictive laws and policies|
Increased fish catch in the areas surrounding the mangroves. Locals state that one can get a larger number of fish through simple hook and line fishing in the mangroves nearby.
It has also been noted that the drinking-water wells located near the mangrove area still contain sweetwater, whereas the rest of the region complains of salty water in their drinking water wells. This has led the Theeram youth to believe that the mangroves, apart from various other functions of coastal protection and marine life replenishment, also help in reducing salinity ingress into the groundwater table.
There has been an increase in the number of turtles coming to nest and the rate of hatching success of the turtle eggs is high.
Turtle eggs are considered to be a good curative for piles and were once sold in the local market. This is no longer seen.
The youth experience a sense of empowerment as a result of protecting their natural area.
As a result of their interaction with the forest department as well as being talked about in the local media, the youth are now treated with respect by various government officials, which is otherwise rarely seen. The villagers have taken advantage of this and have submitted a proposal to the Irrigation Department (through the good offices of the forest department) to install a drinking water pipeline for their village.
As a consequence of being in the news, several people have visited Kolavipaalam and met Theeram members. This has not only been an enriching experience for the visitors but also for these young men which has given them a wider perspective of what they are doing and what other villagers elsewhere have been doing.
The passion of the youth and the Theeram members was one of the key driving forces that made conservation possible. Also, the help that was given by the forest department, government and NGOs was a great support for the conservation efforts.
Cutting of old mangrove trees by some of the local community members for cattle fodder and for retting of coconut fibres has contributed to the reduction in mangroves over the last few decades. The offenders are under increasing pressure to desist from such activity through social disapproval.
The sand mining lobby, however, poses the biggest threat, not just for the Olive Ridley turtles but for the very existence of this beach. Coastal erosion of the sandy beach has reached this level in Payyoli village simply because of the massive sand mining that is being carried out in the Kottapuzha estuary. Consequently, the process of sand transfer and deposition from the estuary to the beach and vice versa through changing tides and currents has been disrupted.
Due to sand mining in the estuary, the sea is no longer able to replenish the beach with more sand from the estuary, while the reverse currents continue to erode the beach. The end result is that at Kolavipaalam beach, year after year the beach stretch is getting narrower, thus leaving very little area for the sea turtles to nest.
In January 2001, the sea tides destroyed the hatchery. This was a great setback to the young group’s efforts. It would not be false to say that this community initiative runs the real risk of fizzling out since the natural habitat of the Olive Ridley turtles is itself disappearing.
When the members had opened the membership of Theeram to young minds so as to keep the group active with fresh ideas and to make new ventures and strategies, the youth wing of a political party threatened them saying that their members must be included. This prompted them to close the membership and thus Theeram continues to consist of only the original twelve members who had joined nine years back. The forest department has helped the community to obtain a favorable order from the court; yet political pressure seems to have scuttled the rest of the effort, leading to non-implementation of government/ and court orders.
A financial resource crunch has limited the group’s activity to simply a protection effort. The youth have expressed their desire to study turtle biology in more detail. They hope to have a school for nature training, survey and research. The objective of this school would be to impart knowledge, and create interest and concern for the community’s natural wealth.
The Kottapuzha riverbed is leased out by the state government to rope makers for retting coconut fibres. Due to the leases granted, there is no land available for afforestation of mangroves. This has restricted Theeram members from bringing more estuarine land under mangroves.
|Data Source||From publicly available sources|
|Year of Study||2001|