Riparian zone restoration and associated biodiversity along the Tamiraparani River, Tamil Nadu.



Riparian zones are areas along the river or streams. They are most sensitive to perturbations of the river itself. The river Tamiraparani in Tamil Nadu, originating in the Agasthyamalai range of the Western Ghats, is the only perennial river which, even today, evokes an emotion that binds people, culture and history. The Tamiraparani is extensively used for irrigation, domestic purposes and industries and is experiencing copious amounts of pollution from agricultural runoff, untreated wastewater and solid waste from villages and small urbanising towns all along the river. The riparian vegetation, which is critical for the primary filtration of pollutants and nutrients and serves as summer refugia for biodiversity, is either encroached, denuded or replaced by invasive species. Restoration of the riparian zone is one of the key interventions that can help improve hydrology and water chemistry and reduce the adverse impacts on biodiversity and human health and wellbeing. Restoration approaches that are top-down have always seen resistance from various stakeholders.

Our model restoration uses a bottom-up approach that integrates rigorous scientific methods with community knowledge. The work will focus on areas where there is scope to improve the quality of water through riparian restoration avoiding hotspots of pollution.