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Rann: The Salt Marsh Ecosystem

Gujarat is bestowed with one of the unique ecosystem in the World, i.e. The Rann (the salt marsh ecosystem). Greater Rann of Kachchh (GRK) and Little Rann of Kachchh (LRK) comprise the Rann ecosystem in Gujarat, which were once a part of the shallow Arabian Sea. LRK, having unique fascinating wildlife, is a south-easterly extension of the larger GRK, which separates the Kachchh region of Gujarat from Sindh in Pakistan and mainland of Gujarat. LRK is the only habitat for remnant Indian Wild Ass population, and only place other than GRK where nesting of flamingo is recorded in the country. The Rann is a unique ecosystem with soil encrustations and saline marshes. Nevertheless, this has adversely impacted the biodiversity of the area. Intensive agriculture, water logging coupled with high evapo-transpiration, capillary action creating salt-wastes in the depressions and salt pans at the periphery of the Rann are major factors causing salinity in the Kachchh area. Thus, it is vital to identify practical models to enhance the biodiversity value while conserving this unique ecosystem of Rann. This in turn would require identifying the influencing factors that will improve soil quality while keeping ecological balance intact.

 

Saline and marshy desert areas are unique ecosystem with extreme environmental condition thus resulting in the survival of only few biological species. Study of such environment is essential as microbes in such adverse environmental conditions (Extremophiles) are adapted to stress conditions. Thus, microbial diversity is of significance for soil productivity in general and such harsh conditions in particular. GUIDE has also made attempts to restore some of the byets in GRK, through sustainable ecological interventions on pilot scale. This included soil moisture conservation, enhancing ground vegetation cover, mostly grass cover etc. With the success of such intervention, and the lessons learnt during the pilot scale experiment, GUIDE intends to upscale such experiments to other parts of Great Rann of Kachchh and Little Rann of Kachchh. This will facilitate restoring all the byets in both GRK and LRK. Further, GUIDE has been involved in investigating various ecological issues in these salt marsh ecosystems. Reclamation of these ecosystems to enhance land productivity and facilitate survivability of other terrestrial species also has been one of GUIDE’s focal areas of research and management intervention. As part of its efforts in consolidating the existing information on these ecosystems, GUIDE has compiled a document namely “State of Environment of Ranns (SoER)”, which formed a part of “State of Environment of Gujarat”. This compilation dealt with GRK and LRK through the framework of PSIR (Pressure, State, Impact and Responses) for conservation, management and sustainable utilization of these salt marsh ecosystems.