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Gujarat, Australia kids to study coastal biodiversity

 

The  Times of India, Ahmadabad, July 9, 2013

The state is blessed with the longest coastline in India, as well as with diverse marine flora and fauna that forms part of coastal biodiversity. All is not well on this front as pollution threatens one part of the coast, and loss of mangroves endangers another part. What are the best ways to address the issues? Experts have decided to ask schoolchildren from Gujarat and Queensland, Australia.

The Center for Environment Education (CEE) is launching Project 1600 today as a part of its Global Citizenships for Sustainability (GCS) initiative. It is an effort to connect schools in various countries via the internet on the theme of coastal and marine environment. The name 1600 refers to the length of the state's coastline.

Pramod Sharma, project coordinator, told TOI that the sustainability initiative was launched during the UN decade of education for sustainability development (UNDESD). It will encourage and support practical teaching of education for sustainability in secondary schools in Australia and India.

"It is a two-year project involving 10 schools and 300 students each from Gujarat in India and Queensland. It is an action-based project in which we will focus on identifying environmental issues and finding solutions. Students from schools in coastal areas will connect with their counterparts in Australia to discuss the issues and come to a conclusion. For example, a group in Bhavnagar has found out that the availability of fish has decreased in coastal regions. Now, the Australian students will try to ascertain whether they have seen similar issues in their environment and if so, how it was addressed," said Sharma.

CEE officials said that the project is expected to generate awareness and passion about the conservation of seas and oceans. Students will study the human impact on coasts and livelihood activities based on coastal ecosystems. They will also gain perspective by seeing local issues in a global context. The final report will be presented to the local community.

On Tuesday, the project will be launched by Steve Waters, Australian consul-general at Mumbai.