Neethi Mahesh

Conservation Hero Grant 2019

Project Name:

Riparian Habitat Conservation along the Cauvery River in Coorg District

Project Brief:

The restoration and conservation of riparian habitats, with the use of native flora, is crucial for watershed management, and conservation of flora and fauna, associated with riverine habitats. As a part of this project, twelve species of indigenous riparian trees were identified during a riparian habitat assessment carried out in the Dubare Reserve Forest in Coorg district, along the river Cauvery. The project involves conservation efforts in the field with the Jenu Kuruba community, by collecting seeds for a seed bank and nursery and by harvesting saplings directly from the riparian zone in the forest area with permission from the Forest Department, of Kodagu district.

Project objectives:
  • Community participation and engagement in conservation efforts.
  • Enable restoration of riparian habitats by establishing a native riparian flora nursery sourced by the Jenu Kuruba (honey collectors) tribe.
  • Create a river monitoring network with educational institutions in Coorg district.
Highlights from the field:
  • Under the project, Neethi is working with the local Jenu Kurba (honey-collector) tribals to document and restore the riparian flora of the Cauvery River in Dubare Reserve Forest, Kodagu District, Karnataka.
  • A field guide of riparian flora and restoration methods has been published to aid plantation activities in the area.
  • With the help of her team of local riparian experts, Neethi has set-up a nursery along the banks of the Cauvery, through which she is supplying saplings to the Forest Department and citizens groups for plantation drives.
  • To increase flood resistance, especially in these times when the Southern states are being severely impacted, Neethi and her team are also working on restoration and replantation activities along the banks of the river.
  • Over the past few months, Neethi has been working to develop a River Watch app to monitor water quality along the Cauvery river. This work will be done in collaboration with government schools through training workshops for teachers and students on the use of water monitoring kits.