The Munroe Island; a Voyage Through a Vulnerable Ecosystem

by Rafeeque Mehroos


Monroe Island is located in the Kollam District of Kerala state, India. A small island group that is located in the conjunction of Ashtamudi Backwaters and Kallada River.


The island is a cluster of eight islands. The total area of ​​the island is 13.4 square kilometers. This group of the island has several islets and hundreds of small canals and streams that are interconnected. Most of the canals are navigable for engine free boats.


As the inland boating is the main tourist attraction of this island, the boating, especially in the evening, through the small canals and open backwaters of nearby will make the ever-memorable frames in your heart such as coconut trees (even though they are leafless) on both sides, filtration ponds, small fishing boats, predatory seagulls, flocks of birds, mooring boats, oyster workers, and the scenery of sunset, mangrove forests…. And so on….


The entire boat ride is full of scenic village views…


Then there is the Junkar service on both sides for crossing the backwater


The bridge and the tragic monuments….


Everything we wandered around….


It is a perfect place for those who love natural beauty and boating throughout the countryside. The whole island can be sailed by boat through the tributaries that meander like the Chemman trails. Besides her natural beauty, she is endangered by decaying biodiversity and the environment. Now a day, the Munroe Islands are like an old lady, she was the queen and everything for her people and now she lost her wealth and power and people are used to enjoying her beauty without considering her health or sustainability. This is the key factor that has attracted me to Munroe Island.


Munroe island was known as the rice bowl of the region and was well known for its fertility and biodiversity. The fresh alluvium with abundant fertility that was deposited by the Kallada river during each monsoon floods makes the island as more fertile each time. Also, inhabitants were used to collecting fertile alluvium from the bed of waterbodies of surrounded Ashtamudi lake and suppled it into the agricultural field as manuring.


Food crops and cash crops were once cultivated in abundance in the Munro Island. The main crops were coconut, paddy, cloves, cocoa, tubers and fish. The water flowing from the Kallada river was choked the saline water intrusion of the kallada estuary. The practice of cultivating coconut by making ridges out of mud from the lake was widespread here. However, due to the low flow of freshwater from the Kallada river due to the dam constructed along the course, it became completely saline intruded, causing flooding and damage to crops on the island.


If you are looking around during your visit, now you can see there many fully or partially submerged houses, leafless trees, and hopeless cultivations. You will be wondered if you are correlating the history of the island with the present conditions of the islands. Hundreds of houses were subsided during the last few decades and most of the area was converted as flooding for most of the year. The cultivations and trees were started to perish and degrading its quality. Saline water intrusion and scarcity of freshwater are the most vulnerable issues of the island


Many scholars described different factors as the reason for the vulnerability of her ecosystems such as climate change and sea-level rise, groundwater extraction, mining and erosions, extraction of natural gases, movement of tectonic plates, dissolution of limestone, earthquakes, geological faulting, isostatic subsidence, seasonal changes and associated effect etc. The construction of the Kallada reservoir in the source of the Kallada river and sand mining may be the main factors that are accelerated the other causes.


The art of nature, it is beautiful to watch the sunset through it…


Some sceneries, obviously, captured through the camera lens are given below:



Author session:

Myself, Rafeeque, a research scholar and scientific assistant in the National Centre for Earth Science Studies (www.ncess.gov.in) Trivandrum, India, is a geographer and passionate in the beauty of the nature and its diversity. Landscape and Photography are my weakness.

You may please reach out me @:

+918075085986

facebook.com/rafeeque.chembrasseri

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