From economic valuation to soil sampling, WISA team conducts Chandertal survey

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Technical Experts from Wetlands International South Asia (WISA) visited Chandertal in Himachal Pradesh for a field survey to assess the economic valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem service (BDES) in SECURE Himalaya landscapes in Himachal Pradesh at Chandertal Wildlife Sanctuary, Spiti (WL) Division. The visit was a part of the assignment under the SECURE Himalaya Project.

The expert team visited the wetland site at an altitude of 4250 m ASL and performed field surveys for ground truthing from all identified land use and land cover classes pertaining to soil sample collection from 0 to 15m and 15 to 30m depths respectively to calculate organic carbon content, quadrat analysis of existent shrubs and herb carpets to compute the biomass contents, phytosociological surveys, and hydrological experiments as proposed in the project methodology.

The team also collected major registered tourist records of the Chandertal wetland complex as reported by the state forest and tourism departments. Details pertaining to the scale of tourism and expenditure incurred in the process for national and international tourists of varying financial backgrounds and age groups were collected from the camping sites near the wetland.

To collect relevant data, group interviews were also conducted from varying groups of people visiting the site for the accurate economic evaluation of the services rendered by the wetland. Significant observations were made about the interventions and activities undertaken at the wetland and catchment level for the conservation and management.

Some of the major interventions witnessed within the wetland premises were related to construction of check dams to arrest excess siltation, plantation on meadows near the Spiti river as an alternative grazing area and construction of shallow ponds to trap snowmelt runoff, to be used as a water source.

The committee also learned about the efforts made by the wetland managers to maintain the fragile ecosystem and ensure the maintenance of wetlands ecological integrity.

Mr Harsh Ganapathi (Senior Technical Officer), Mr Dhruv Verma (Senior Technical Officer), Mr Arghya Chakrabarty (Technical Officer – Biodiversity), and Ms Dayadra Mandal (Junior Technical Officer-Water Management) undertook the field exercise at Chandertal wetland complex from September 16, 2022 to September 19, 2022.