Turtles and Casuarina
The April 2008 issue of Sanctuary (Vol. XXVIII No. 2) carried a report on how World-Bank assisted Casuarina shelterbelts along the coast of Tamil Nadu had been raised right up to the high tide line, eliminating sea turtle nesting habitats.
The Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) has been campaigning for over a year to convince the authorities to uproot plantations growing within 50 m. from the high tide line so that sea turtles can continue to nest. Some reprieve may be in sight.
On September 5, 2008, the Tamil Nadu government issued an order requesting the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of the state to “ensure that the work (of uprooting the Casuarina) is completed well in time before the next nesting season in 2008 and to document and monitor the process closely so that the objective of providing safe nesting sites for the sea turtles is achieved in full”.
Under the order, 67,039 Casuarina saplings planted in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 are to be removed. While this is only a very tiny fraction of the total Casuarina planted along 350 km. of the state’s coastline, conservationists feel that the government order is an enlightened start. Meanwhile, news has come in from Nellore District in Andhra Pradesh that Casuarina has been planted up to the high-tide line there. Details are awaited.