Much like my neighbor site, Patuli, Rajarhat shares the same environment. A grassland, Rajarhat can be called the oxygen hub of New Town, the IT Hub and Residential sector of Kolkata.
People protest, rally against human encroachment in Rain-forests, coastal regions (for oil rigging) and mangroves. These are indeed some very important issues on which we should bang our heads. But we often ignore the green, the potential of grass. A grassland provides insects with plenty of food, insects provide birds. But the basic human nature has to interfere in this food chain. why since we are much superior than birds, insects, animals? A bird is as intelligent and caring as any good human being. Grasslands (and let me name the Wetlands also) are now a rare sight.
Why Grasslands are Important for us:
There are several grasslands around the world. Most of them are found in the tropical and sub-tropical countries. Some famous names are Prairies of USA, Steppes of Central Europe, Savannas of Africa, and Pampas of South America.
26% of the earth is covered with Grasslands and 80% of that is used for agricultural purposes.
“Grasslands are globally important because they are a natural Carbon Sink and natural carbon sinks are an important part of a natural process called Carbon Cycle.
In the carbon cycle, earth both emits and re-captures and stores large quantities of Carbon Dioxide, also known as CO2, from the earth’s atmosphere thereby keeping the global temperature more or less in balance.”
Grasslands help us to control Green House Gas emissions also. But we never paid heed to this matter. Let the pollution grow in a steady pace along with the population.
What are Wetlands and why are they Important?
Wetland ecosystems are part of our natural wealth. With the global population set to increase to nine billion by 2050, increasing pressure on water resources and the threats posed by climate change, the need to maximize the benefits offered by the Wetland has never been greater or more urgent.
The ‘ecosystem services’ – the benefits people obtain from ecosystems – provided by wetlands include:
- Flood control
- Groundwater replenishment
- Shoreline stabilization & storm protection
- Sediment & nutrient retention and export
- Water purification
- Reservoirs of biodiversity
- Wetland products
- Climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Not all wetlands provide all of the services listed above all of the time. Different wetlands provide a range of services according to their type, size and location. Unfortunately, the attraction of short-term, private-sector profits continues to drive the destruction and degradation of wetlands in many parts of the world. In fact, there are worrying signs that wetlands – and the services they provide us with – are being lost at a higher rate than some other ecosystem types.
Grassland suffer from the same fate.
And Rajarhat is a bit of both. It is a Wet Grassland. It has swamps, marshes as well as dry, and long grass protruding the Earth. All most at a human height, these grasslands provide for grasshoppers, insects, butterflies, snakes, Jackals, small passerine birds like Cisticolas, Prinias, Munias, Weavers, Tailorbirds, Skylarks, Bush Larks and waders like Grebes, Teals, Wood Ducks and migratory birds like Wheatears, Pratincoles, Cuckoos, Kestrels.
The ecosystem of Rajarhat provides for predators like Vultures, Eagles, Kites and Buzzards. Approximately 30-40 years ago, Kolkata’s dumping grounds and open lands were home to now critically endangered White Rumped Vulture. Now, well, IUCN has declared them Critically Endangered. See the decline here: IUCN STATUS
But, New Town, an adjacent fast growing satellite city, is attracting a handsome number of residents and workers. This migration is demanding new buildings, residential complex, large departmental stores and Malls. And new city comes with entertainment and recreational centres.
But they all need one thing, LAND. And due to this inevitable human encroachment, Rajarhat is losing its importance as a major bio-diversity zone and a ecologically sound habitat; all in the name of so-called development.
People should understand the basic importance of sustainable development. And as a nature lover, it is my ardent request, let us come together, join hands and save our mother.
The importance of protecting/conserving grasslands is matched only by our need to have open spaces and breathe clean air. These ecosystems are critical for the health of our natural world. The grasslands provide feeding grounds for all manner of prey and predators and give balance to the world.
The next time you drive by an open field, give it a second look and be happy to see the grass blowing in the breeze. Whether it is being used for grazing or simply sitting as it is, the fact the land remains as a grassland is a good sign.
- Anupam Mukherjee, a friend and nature lover, this guy is also a bird photographer and most of the images are his copyrighted. You can check his beautiful blog at: anupammukherji.wordpress.com
- A young mind and a very hard working boy, a nature lover: Souranil De.