Friday, Jul 01, 2022

The Green Corridors: Can Goa's Khazans Mitigate The Effects Of Climate Change?

As Goa faces climate change threats from rising sea levels and extreme tidal events, its age-old khazans could come to the rescue

Blue Horizon: A manos of a khazan Photograph: Shutterstock

Coastal regions of the world are eco-­fr­a­gile systems as they integr­ate complex processes like tid­al systems, offshore currents, waves, erosion, accretion, beaches, dunes, wetlands, tidal channels. Due to the global impact of climate change, the United Nations Framework Convent­ion on Climate Change (UNFCC) is strongly leading nat­i­ons to initiate action plans for sustainable dev­e­lopment. In Asia, sea level rise is conside­red as one of the severe threats. Goa has 105 km of seafront along the Konkan coast, southwest of India. The low­est land in Goa is uniquely known as the khazan ecosystem. These are land livelihood systems traditionally evolved by local communities through experiential learnings over thousands of years. The land, which was once low-lying tidal flood plains, was enginee­red intricately with dykes, sluice gates and water channels. Traditional occupations sup­p­o­­r­ted were agriculture, aquaculture and salt making. The indigenous village communities, also kno­wn as Gaunkari (common pool resource) villagers or co-owners, maintained these khazan infrast­r­uctures for their annual food produce. Socially, eco­nomically and environmentally woven into the­ir lifestyle, these khazans are the cultural landscape of Goa’s villages. Today, these existing ecosystems additiona­lly have inherent potential to withstand sea-level rise or flooding and other related coastal risks from climate change. Currently, events such as tides whose range extends up to 2.5 m, and heavy daily rainfall of 0.3 m occur simultaneously, with progressively increasing sea level, the total rise in water levels easily reac­h three metres. Khazan ecosystems and their potential to defend against coas­tal hazards can provide a base map to authorities for disaster management in Goa.

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