Status of Bangalore Wetlands: Strategies for Restoration, Conservation and Management
Kiran. R. and Ramachandra. T.V.*
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India


Wetland ecosystems are interconnected and interactive within a watershed. In Bangalore the environmental pressure of unplanned urbanisation and growing population has taken its toll of wetlands. The study revealed about 35% decline in the number and loss in the interconnectivity among wetlands disrupting the drainage network and the hydrological regime leading to irreversible (sometimes) changes in wetland quality.

The exploratory survey and physico-chemical and biological characterization of lakes located all over the city shows that lakes are polluted mainly due to sewage from domestic and industrial sectors. Detailed quantitative investigations of seven waterbodies (selected based on location and the type of input source) involving physical and chemical parameters and statistical analysis of selected parameters reveals that Kamakshipalya, Yediur, Hebbal and Ulsoor lakes have higher degree of pollution compared to the Sankey and Bannergatta tanks which has no major source of pollution.

The preliminary socio-economic survey carried out in the region surrounding Hebbal lake through Contingency Valuation Method showed high level of dependency on wetlands for ground water, food, fodder, fish, fuel, etc. The high level of dependency on wetlands and its poor quality calls for immediate restoration of degraded lakes and appropriate measures for conservation and management in order to maintain ecological balance in the region.

The restoration program with an ecosystem perspective through Best Management Practices (BMPs) helps in correcting point and non point sources of pollution wherever and whenever possible. This along with regulations and planning for wildlife habitat and fishes helps in arresting the declining water quality and the rate in loss of wetlands. These restoration goals require intensive planning, leadership and funding along with the financial resources and active involvement from all levels of organisation (governmental, NGOs, corporate conglomerates, citizen groups, research organisations, media, etc.) through interagency and intergovernmental processes all made instrumental in initiating and implementing the restoration programs.  Various measures including the creation of a Regional Conservation Forum (RCF) represented by a network of educational institutions, researchers, NGO's and the local people are suggested to help restore the already degraded lakes, and conserve those at the brink of death.  In order to restore, conserve and manage our fast perishing wetland ecosystem, the need of the hour is to formulate viable plans, policies and management strategies.

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