KOCHI: With the launch of the Cities4Forests (C4F) projects in the city on Saturday, the corporation has begun its campaign to raise awareness and work out sustainable solutions for addressing ‘blue-green’ issues in its limits. The ‘blue-green’ issues refer to matters related to water bodies and urban forestry. The C4F projects have been initiated jointly by global agencies for ‘partnering’ with forests to tackle climate change.
Kochi is a signatory in the project along with 45 cities in the world to conserve and restore forests, for protecting watersheds and improving public health.
Corporation councillors and officials spoke of the heat islands (an urban area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities) in the city and its surrounding areas and major watershed problems. The local body will work along with agencies such as World Resources institute (WRI), Pilot Projects and Revolve Media to integrate the inner, nearby, and faraway forests into city development plans and programs.
Delivering the inaugural address, mayor Soumini Jain said the extreme climate events were an indication of nature’s fury at man’s activities and a reactive approach was not a sustainable solution for a dense urban space like Kochi.
Jaya Dindhaw, head, urban development, WRI India, mentioned the various elements that would be taken up under C4F in Kochi.
They include: Public space interventions to provide quality and access to public spaces, improving community resilience through an urban community resilience assessment framework for two vulnerable neighbourhoods and identifying landscape restoration opportunities through a community-based approach.
Rajan Chedambath, director, C-HED, said several cities were not planned for basic human needs of clean water, air, food and open spaces and massive physical infrastructure has been trumping over quality of living during planning process.
Samrat Basak, director, Urban Water Program, WRI India, said ‘green and blue infrastructure’ was the foundation of improving a city’s liveability and programs like C4F will help chart out regulations and by-laws for cities to sustainably combat climate change.
MR Hari, proponent of Miyawaki Forests in Kerala, mentioned that dense tiny forests in cities help in propagating dwindling native species of medicinal plants and herbs as well as improving the natural landscape.
P O Nameer, professor, College of Forestry, KAU, said selection of species was the most critical factor of afforestation. KJ Sohan, ex-mayor of Kochi said that projects like C4F will enable the corporation to take informed decisions about creating regulations and by-laws for conserving the ‘green blue infrastructure’.
A panel discussion looked at state of canals in the city and how C4F can be used as a platform to raise awareness and create behavioural change among citizens. The discussion also included the dearth and dismal state of open spaces in the city and the pressing need to conserve them.
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