Casuarina plantations and the Olive Ridley

The Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network was featured in the Hindu today.

Sea turtle lovers are concerned at the disturbance caused to turtle nesting habitats along the Tamil Nadu coastline, where casuarinas have been raised by the State Forest Department.The sea turtle’s egg-laying season began a month ago. Volunteers of the Chennai-based Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) had written to the World Bank stating that the Forest Department should reverse the damage done.The SSTCN also wanted the Bank to provide funds for taking up transplantation work.Akila Balu, co-ordinator, SSTCN, said after the tsunami, the World Bank funded an Emergency Tsunami Reconstruction Project (ETRP) in Tamil Nadu.Under this programme, the State Forest Department had taken up the work of raising casuarina plantations to act as a bio-shield on the coastline. The casuarina saplings were planted right up to the high-tide line. In the process, it eliminated large stretches of sea turtle nesting habitat.Department’s defenceA senior Forest Department official said casuarinas had not been raised all along the State coastline.Adequate space had been provided between each sapling through which the turtles could enter the sand and lay eggs.The ETRP is a conservation-oriented programme, and so far the department has not received any complaints that the casuarina plantation had affected egg-laying of the Olive Ridleys, the official said.“In most of the areas, the saplings are not touching the high-tide line. If we plant closer to the line, the saplings will not survive. On the whole, the plantation will surely not affect the egg-laying turtles,” the official added.

The Hindu : Tamil Nadu / Chennai News : “Casuarina plantations affecting turtle nesting habitats”

To find out more, visit the SSTCN website.

cross-posted at the Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network

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1 comment for “Casuarina plantations and the Olive Ridley

  1. Ranjit Patnaik
    February 6, 2008 at 12:44 am

    I am shocked at the response from the Forest dept. Turtles in Orissa have avoided beaches (specially in the Devi river mouth) where there are casurina plantations simply because they are intelligent enough to understand that a green cover on the beach means predators closeby who will dig up and eat the eggs and also gobble up the small ones when they hatch. The turtle always surveys the beach (by popping up its head a liitle away from the beach) before deciding where to lay the eggs. The commnets of the forest department that they have left adequate space between trees to crawl in…is a big joke. It is very unfortunate that forest officials know so little about wildlife.