Climate Change Awareness Should Start from a Young Age: Yuvan Aves

Yuvan Aves has been protesting the proposed Adani port around the Pulicat Lake near Chennai.

Published
Environment
5 min read
Yuvan Aves has been an important voice protesting the proposed Adani port around the Pulicat Lake near Chennai.
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“We are losing our land and beaches. Unless you truly belong to a place and have a way to be in touch with it, you cannot understand what you are losing.”
Yuvan Aves, Naturalist

Chennai has been facing a strange dilemma for years now. During summers, the city faces drought and during monsoons it faces floods.

On World Earth Day 2021, The Quint spoke to the 25-year-old naturalist and environment activist Yuvan Aves who has been a strong voice against unplanned development, of both Centre and the state, which ignores sustainability of land and water.

Naturalist Yuvan Aves while doing documentation work at Bannerghatta.
Naturalist Yuvan Aves while doing documentation work at Bannerghatta.
(Photo Courtesy: Yuvan Aves)

Naturalist, Teacher, Changemaker

The Chennai-based naturalist Yuvan Aves quit conventional school education in Class X and began self-learning. His interest in nature began when he was a student at Chennai’s Krishnamurti Foundation of India school.

Aves has been helping children understand the dependence of human beings on air, water, land and animals. He teaches lessons on climate change using relatable examples from everyday life.

Yuvan Aves talking children on a trip around the Adyar creek, in Tholkappiar Poonga.
Yuvan Aves talking children on a trip around the Adyar creek, in Tholkappiar Poonga.
(Photo Courtesy: Yuvan Aves)
Yuvan has been helping children understand the dependence of human beings on the air, water, land and animals.
Yuvan has been helping children understand the dependence of human beings on the air, water, land and animals.
(Photo Courtesy: Yuvan Aves)

From creating a butterfly garden to explaining the process of a larvae’s development into a beautiful insect and understanding the indigenous plants that could help avoid soil erosion and temperature change, Aves told The Quint that he is doing it right. He educates at the grass-root level as children have the power to change the future.

He has also embarked on a massive project traveling along the Indian coast documenting stories of coastal communities, biodiversity, conservation efforts, displacement, habitat loss and changing coastal geographies in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa and the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Yuvan Aves conducting a public walk around Hadosiddapura lake in Bangalore.
Yuvan Aves conducting a public walk around Hadosiddapura lake in Bangalore.
(Photo Courtesy: Yuvan Aves)

He is the author of two books and the recipient of the M Krishnan Memorial Nature Writing Award.

Adani Port will Leave Chennai Flooded & Dry: Yuvan

Livelihoods of about one lakh people from Ennore in Tamil Nadu to Sulupet in Andhra Pradesh will be impacted.
Livelihoods of about one lakh people from Ennore in Tamil Nadu to Sulupet in Andhra Pradesh will be impacted.
(Photo Courtesy: Yuvan Aves)

Aves has also been protesting the proposed Adani port around the Pulicat Lake Wildlife Sanctuary near Chennai. If this expansion of the Kattupalli port is allowed, it will threaten the livelihoods of thousands of people and destroy the ecosystem of the area, he said.

“Leaving out indigenous people while formulating policies has resulted in poor governance,” Aves explained.

The Pulicat Lake Wildlife Sanctuary has been identified as one of the five major mangrove areas, a ‘priority wetland’ and an important coastal and marine biodiversity area in Tamil Nadu.

Students listening to fisherwomen at Kattupalli on how they have been  displaced several times and the impact the proposed Adani port will have on their lives.
Students listening to fisherwomen at Kattupalli on how they have been displaced several times and the impact the proposed Adani port will have on their lives.
(Photo Courtesy: Yuvan Aves)
“Chennai’s largest flood catchment and drainage area is at the place where the Kosasthalaiyar and Araniar rivers join Pulicat and drain into the ocean; and the port is being built on the river. This will make several areas of Chennai prone to floods. The groves are the bulwark against natural disasters but if this place is destroyed, all of Chennai will be prone to massive change in ecology and climate.
Yuvan Aves, Naturalist

Aves explained that the construction of the port will increase erosion and if the narrow strip of sand separating the sea from the lake disappears, the risk of salinity ingress will increase and the groundwater could turn salty.

The livelihoods of about one lakh people from Ennore in Tamil Nadu to Sulupet in Andhra Pradesh will be impacted by the project, Aves said.

Responding to The Quint’s query asked in connection with a related report, Roy Paul, Associate Vice President, Corporate Brand Custodian of Adani Group wrote that the proposed expansion project at Katupalli will exclude the ecologically vulnerable areas. The Adani Group’s vision for Tamil Nadu would position the state as a prominent logistics hub that fuels exports in the region, he added.

Insects Feed Humans, So Protect Them: Aves

Yuvan Aves during an urban wilderness walk at Velachery.
Yuvan Aves during an urban wilderness walk at Velachery.
(Photo Courtesy: Yuvan Aves)

Another pet project by Aves is his year-long documentation of insects. The farming cycle is directly dependent on insects, he vouches. In a children’s book he wrote, “If there is food on our plate, it is because of the bees, butterflies, wasps and ants. Unsustainable farming practices like use of fertilisers, vehicular pollution and pollution of water bodies have been preventing insects from breeding.”

The young naturalist intends to write a series of books and children’s stories to educate people that climate crisis is a problem of perception.

“Policies and projects are being devised based on discrimination and not sustainability. If we look at the environment from the perspective of those humans who respect the land and water, we will be able to see the magic in the world and take good care of it.”
Yuvan Aves, Naturalist

Proactive People Can Stop Environmental Misgovernance: Aves

Yuvan Aves at the Beas river during a trip to Himachal Pradesh.
Yuvan Aves at the Beas river during a trip to Himachal Pradesh.
(Photo Courtesy: Yuvan Aves)

The naturalist in Aves believes that it is the young people who should demand climate justice and put an end to the ongoing environmental misgovernance in India and in Tamil Nadu.

In 2019, Aves and his fellow climate activists created the Chennai Climate Action Group to advocate, research and campaign for environmental and social causes.

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