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Recession-free revenue from restoration of waterbodies and wetlands

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Madhukar Swayambhu
Madhukar Swayambhu is a TEDx speaker, awarded by Jal Shakti Mantralaya as Water Hero, Recognized as Global Top 3 Author on Water by Smart Water Magazine (Spain), having many published articles in various Water & Environment magazines.
  • Recession-free revenue from restoration of waterbodies and wetlands

Waterbodies are unique in many ways, but from the carbon perspective, they are the only beings or structures on the planet which can do carbon emissions as well as carbon sequestration, depending upon their health and sanitation well-being and status. For example, all the polluted / contaminated waterbodies across the globe will do emission, but all the waterbodies in their natural best of health are blue carbon sinks. Today we have technology available for “resurrection of native ecology” for keeping the waterbodies and wetlands in the natural healthy conditions or to preserve their carbon sink status “in-situ” conditions.

Wetlands represent a significant sink for carbon and are key ecosystems to consider when managing and weighing earth’s carbon stock (Bernal and Mitsch, 2008). However, wetlands occupy roughly 6–8% of the land and the freshwater surface (Mitsch and Gosselink, 2007). Hence, wetlands represent one of the largest biological carbon stocks and play a decisive role in the global carbon cycle (Chmura et al., 2003; Mitra et al., 2005). In warm regions, wetlands have high productivity (i.e., carbon fixation, Eid et al., 2010a). A water body or wetland-based park primarily comprises of the water body or wetland, terrestrial soil, trees, shrubs and herbs and grasses or lawns. Carnell et al. (2016) argue that though inland wetlands occupy a mere 6-8% of the land surface yet they are the largest store of terrestrial carbon as they contain 33% of the soil carbon pool. However, the annual rates and amounts of organic carbon burial in different water body systems vary (Boyd et al., 2010).

While cities are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, water bodies and wetlands within and around cities play an important role as natural carbon sinks, where carbon sequestration occurs for a long period of time thereby mitigating global warming and accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions. The contribution of lakes and artificial reservoirs in counteracting man made CO2 emissions cannot be neglected as according to Einsele et al. (2001), present day carbon emissions due to the burning of fossil fuels amount to about 5.5 x109 tons C per year, while lakes and reservoirs remove about 0.3x 109 tons C per year, which is 5.5% of what we put into the atmosphere annually as a consequence of utilization of coal, gas and oil. However, water bodies and wetlands within and around cities are often found to be in a state of abuse.

If we restore our waterbodies back to healthy condition, the revenue generated only out of the carbon sequestration could be so high that the ULBs can literally go tax free.

Although there are many ripple effects of resurrection of the native ecology of the Waterbodies and wetlands, like restoration of the ecosystem services which include flood, drought, soil, water and sir pollution mitigation, aquifer recharge, ambient temperature regulation, biodiversity conservation and all of them put together results in circular economy establishment, but from the administrative revenue perspective the most sustainable and recession free aspect would be carbon credits.

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