At a time when climate change is posing a serious challenge, a group of scientists of the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) joins hands with Ghent University, Belgium, to study the consequences of climate change on different ecosystems, especially mangroves on the coastal areas of the State.
The organisations have entered in a Memorandum of Understanding recently. A team of researchers successfully installed the TreeWatch.net, a tree, water and carbon monitoring network developed by Kathy Steppe, professor, Faculty of Bioscience engineering, Ghent University, on a mangroves plot at Sakthikulangara in Kollam district as a part of it.
“The treewatch.net aims at becoming a unique tool to show hydraulic functioning and growth of trees in real. This information offers a list of possibilities not only for scientific research and current monitoring networks but also for education and raising awareness on climate change,” Sreejith Ashtamoorthy, scientist, Forest ecology, KFRI , said.
Dr. Sreejith and Naseef, a researcher, had presented a research article at the annual meeting of Plant Environmental Physiology Group (PEGP) of the British Ecological Society in Lisbon, Portugal a few months ago.
The research was focusing on the implications and importance of understanding the plant functional traits in the climate change scenario and it attracted the attention of Prof; Kathy Steppe, who is also a trainer in the PEPG meet.
Prof. Kathey Seppe invited the duo to start a collaborative research project on climate change and it led to sign an MOU between the organisations.
Syam Viswanath, Director, KFRI said it was necessary to have international collaborations to answer bigger questions challenges of climate change on a global scale. It is a privilege to KFRI that it has become the first collaborative institution in the “Treewatch” from outside of Europe, Dr. Shyam said.
This has further opened an official platform for the exchange of researchers including faculties and students between the KFRI and Ghent University. It will ensure a better research exposure and efficient utilisation of the capacity of both the institutes, he said.
“The inclusion of mangrove trees in the network is a great opportunity to further investigate foliar water uptake of mangroves during rain event, which may be more important in survival and growth of mangroves during drought,” Prof. Kathy Steppe said.