Youth action is much needed in conservation of wetlands

–          70 youths from across the state participate in exposure-cum-orientation programme to Hirakud Ramsar Site.

–          Importance of wetland ecosystems in maintaining ecological balance and promoting local livelihoods highlighted by experts.

–          Youths participated in Lake Walk and ‘know wetland birds’ programmes guided by expert birders and photographers.

Hirakud :   As part of the series of ‘World Wetlands Day 2023’ programmes conducted by the #Youth4WaterInida campaign to celebrate importance of Wetlands, an exposure-cum-interaction programme was organised at Zero Point, Right Dyke, Hirakud Ramsar Site.  More than 70 youths from across the state participated in this programme in which they got the opportunity to interact with several wetland experts and bird photographers.  The youths also joined a Lake Walk and ‘know wetland birds’ programmes organised by the lake side, informed Ranjan Panda, Odisha’s Water Man and Co-founder of the #Youth4WaterIndia campaign who led the day-long programme along with youth volunteers.  He also said, “Youths need to be actively engaged in conservation of wetlands.

Ranjit Sahuan eminent birder and bird photographer, who has been researching Hirakud birds for about two decades, talked about the importance of birds for healthy wetlands.  He also helped the youths recognize different bird species – rare and commonly sighted – and suggested how some important habitat areas within the lake need to be protected from any form of human activities.  Shishir Panigrahianother eminent birder and bird photographer talked about the importance of Ramsar sites and the link between birds and healthy ecosystems.  Another eminent birder and bird photographer Subrat Nath also helped the youths understand bird species of Hirakud.

Experts from the Wetlands International South Asia’s Delhi office, Suchita Awasthi, Harsh Ganapathi and Dayadra Mandal joined the programme and deliberated on various aspects of wetlands, related biodiversity and human-wetlands relationships to instil necessary conservation education among the youths.  They also facilitated interactive discussions with the youth to gauge and increase their understanding on the importance of wetlands in our lives.  They also highlighted the role wetlands play in supporting local livelihoods.

Anshu Pragyan Das, DFO, Wildlife, Sambalpur interacted with the youth and narrated about the various developmental works her department has been taking to raise awareness around the Hirakud Ramsar Site and Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary.  She also invited youths to participate in various programmes planned as part of the Ramsar Site initiatives.

The “Factsheet on Coastal Wetlands” published by the campaign on World Wetlands Day (2nd February) was re-released during the programme.

Mohit Nayak, Head of JCI, Sambalpur, coordinated the programme.  Rashmi Ranjan, Sudha Panigrahi and Deepak Agrawal worked as lead volunteers along with others in the programme. Sasmita Mohapatra and Naresh Behera from Climate Warrior Rourkela also actively helped organise the programme.

The day-long programme was organized by #Youth4WaterIndia in association with Wetlands International at Hirakud to celebrate World Wetlands Day 2023.  Other partners include Sambalpur Wildlife Division, Govt. of Odisha; JCI Sambalpur Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), United National Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), International Climate Initiative, Mahanadi River Waterkeeper, GIZ, Sambalpur Kala Academy, Yuva Udayan and Water Initiatives.

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