The importance of watershed approach to developmental planning was identified during the sixth plan and watershed development programmes were taken up on a pilot basis in the early 1970’s. From the agricultural view point, watershed management plans are blueprints for implementing protective and restorative measures to sustain agriculture and maintain the ecosystem. Though the growth of watershed programmes indicates divergence in perception, planning and implementation, they coverage to the overall objective of sustainable resource management with multiple benefits. Though the growth of watershed programmes indicates divergence in perception, planning and implementation, they coverage to the overall objective of sustainable resource management with multiple benefits.
Though the watershed atlas of Kerala has already been published on the basis of sub watersheds and river basin by various other agencies, presently, developmental programmes are being undertaken mainly on the basis of micro watersheds (having an area of 500-600 ha). This necessitates the publication of a Watershed Atlas at micro watershed level so that the selection of watershed and implementation of various developmental programmes by agencies can be made more easy and transparent. Watershed developmental programmes are being undertaken under various projects like WGDP, NWDPRA, OPEC, RIDF, Hariyali etc.. The delineation and prioritization of watersheds selected under various schemes create confusion and the prioritization process is often manipulated by political interferences. In this context, the publication of a Prioritized Watershed Atlas at Micro Watershed level, which is done purely on scientific basis, becomes significant.
Watershed Atlas of all the 14 districts of Kerala had been prepared as a special venture by the Soil Survey Wing purely on scientific basis and it is a valuable document providing comprehensive micro watershed level information of the state.
The three primary steps in characterisation of a watershed are delineation, codification and prioritization. Delineation of watersheds is taken up after tarversing the area using small scale and large scale maps. Codification process attempted in this publication is useful at the grass roots level where the watershed is taken up for implementation and also at the State and National level where the same is used by the planners. Prioritization is a measure of the fragility of the area to degradation and represents the sequence in which the tract is to be taken up for management. The watersheds which are highly fragile where immediate intervention is required should get top priority for management. Conceptually, those areas which need immediate management measures are to be treated first to prevent further deterioration. With this in view, the Soil Survey Organization has taken up publication of Prioritized Micro Watershed Atlas of all the fourteen districts of Kerala.The Prioritized Watershed Atlas' of all districts have been published.