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June-July 2008

Vision of the Eco Park

 

For the development of the Master Plan, the entire estuary area, including the mudflats and wetlands, has been considered as one ecological system integrating biological, physical and social factors.

The first step towards ecological restoration is to define and secure the perimeter of the Creek and estuary from the surrounding urban development. The best method to do so is to provide public access to this boundary. Artist rendition of the planned walkway with foot bridges that will allow visitors to experience the park through a walking tour.
An urban walkway along the edges would serve this purpose and be an opportunity for people to enjoy the spectacular view of the Creek and Estuary.

Ecological restoration refers to the process whereby an entire ecosystem is brought back to health, by altering a degraded area in such a way as to reestablish an ecosystem's structure and function. In the present case, where the Estuary is located in the centre of a metropolis, concepts for sustainable ecological restoration must contain the presence of man.

An important aspect of the preservation is the water management plan. The Centre for Environmental Studies, Anna University , is conducting intensive studies on water management, taking into account the function of the estuary as storm water recharge and discharge zone and as a flood sink in case of spring tides and cyclones. The aim of this study is to restore the ecology and prevent this area from future pollution.

Another component is the water resource system for the Eco Park . The park will generate its own water from storm water collection and treatment of sewage and grey water from surrounding urban areas using innovative engineering technology, effective micro organisms and special fountains that aerate and energize tired and polluted water. The purification and reactivating of this essential element of life will be a key principle of the park.

The temporary exhibition centre where the Master Plan is displayed
Restoration of the former bio-diversity is another principle aim of the project. A flora plan will be created and vegetation found along the Coromandel Coast will be reintroduced. Clearing existing vegetation and planting species of original flora will be done in a phased manner, as the present vegetation provides a habitat for many bird species. Mangroves will be planted, wherever appropriate.

Another main issue is fauna survey and conservation. The intent is to create a habitat for typical fauna in coastal environments. However, the proximity of the city will determine the eventual equilibrium of the system.

The Eco Park will have several elements to sensitize visitors to the environment. It will have four primary zones. The first is the Arrival and Orientation Zone, which will provide safe arrival areas for visitors and at the same time ensure minimal disturbance to the rest of the park. The second is the Interactive Learning Zone with interpretive education gardens, learning areas and an Environmental Education Centre. The third zone is the Nature Interpretation Zone, which has a natural trail with occasional viewing points for people to experience the various ecosystems of the Coromandel Coast . The largest zone is the Silent Zone, which is not accessible to the public.

Artist rendition of the Environmental Education Centre – the park’s focal point. The Environmental Education Centre is a focal point of the Eco Park.
The Centre will have a large hall where an exhibition or group gatherings can take place and a class room for presentations to school groups. It will show visitors the wonder and importance of ecological diversity; communicate scientific studies and research into indigenous fauna and flora; raise awareness of local environment issues; and inspire people to engage in the process of restoration and preservation of the environment. It will introduce visitors to the basic principles of ecology with an emphasis on coastal ecology and watershed rehabilitation. These programmes will help to nurture a deeper appreciation and reverence for living things and natural systems. Visitors will become familiar with plants and animals native to Chennai and learn about their interrelationships and how human activities affect them.

The park will use renewable energy sources such as solar panels to minimize dependence on the Tamil Nadu grid. Self powered street lights with independent solar panel, battery and auto switch controller will be installed wherever necessary. Water from collection tanks spread out in the park will be pumped using solar pumps.

The Eco Park will be open to groups of school children, individual students with special assignments, general visitors and professional ecologists and scientists.

 

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