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MERC hosts tour to Wular Lake as part of workshop on “wetlands for life”

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Srinagar, May 8: The Media Education Research Centre (MERC) at Kashmir University, in collaboration with the Centre for Media Studies New Delhi, orchestrated a two-day media engagement program titled ‘Wetlands for LIFE.’ As a pivotal component of this initiative, a cohort of media students and scholars embarked on a field trip to Wular Lake, celebrated as one of the largest freshwater bodies in South Asia.

Led by an esteemed team of experts, including Kunal Bharat, Forestry and Biodiversity Advisor GIZ, and Annu Anand, Director of CMS, the tour was meticulously curated to offer firsthand insights into the ecological significance of wetlands and the pivotal role media plays in advocating for their conservation.

The workshop, designed to equip media academicians with comprehensive knowledge and practical skills in wetlands conservation and environmental journalism, featured a spectrum of engaging sessions, expert presentations, and immersive field visits. Participants delved into topics ranging from the ecological importance of wetlands to effective storytelling techniques for environmental reporting.

At Wular Vintage Park, Owais Mir, Project Coordinator of the Wular Conservation and Management Authority, briefed students and scholars about Wular Lake’s significance, ecotourism potential, and ongoing restoration plans. He also highlighted WUCMA’s contributions to Wular Lake since its formation.

“The government is undertaking large-scale restoration efforts for the lake and implementing initiatives to promote it as a premier tourist destination, creating livelihood opportunities for the surrounding community,” Owais stated.

He also highlighted the various wetlands of the lake and their potential for migratory birds and aquatic ecosystems, stating that the restoration efforts for Wular Lake have led to a significant return of migratory birds.

He mentioned that a census is currently underway to gather data on this phenomenon, and the actual data will be shared once it is completed.

Subsequently, a question and answer session allowed students to inquire about various aspects of the lake, with officials providing answers.

Dr. Mehreen Khaleel of the Wildlife Research and Conservation Foundation (WRCF) highlighted the ecotourism potential of Wular Lake, emphasising the importance of individual efforts to ensure its safety and security for future generations.

She also educated students on research techniques pertaining to the lake and its surrounding communities.

Subsequently, for research purposes, the students visited villages situated along the lake’s shores and gathered insights from local residents regarding the lake’s current status from their perspectives.

After returning from the lake, a journalistic skill session focusing on the approach to stories related to environmental issues was conducted by Nishant Saxena during which he educated students on the technical and practical aspects of approaching such stories.

Later, a certification award ceremony was held at the MERC auditorium, during which participating students were awarded

Meanwhile, Dr. Afsana Rashid, the coordinator of the workshop, presented a vote of thanks, which she expressed to the faculty, scholars, and students.

Besides talking about conservation efforts for wetlands, she talked more about how we aim to inspire and empower the next generation of journalists to become champions of environmental protection and sustainability.

The organizers also marked their commitment to organizing similar workshops in the future, aiming to engage a wider audience, including both media professionals and the local community, in fostering greater awareness and participation in environmental conservation efforts.

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