As our population increases every day, our natural resources are falling short. There is an insatiable need to accommodate more and more people at the known risk of endangering our planet even more. Take the western ghats, one of eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to ‘The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel’ report, about 40% of original vegetation cover in the western ghats has been lost and converted between 1920-1990.
Not more than a paltry 7% of the area of the western ghats is under primary vegetation cover.
The floral species of the ghats are lost to plantations, timber, encroachments, fire and various other pressures. This is truly sad since this area is home to so many rare and undiscovered species of wildlife.
The ghats’ Kodagu district has been affected too, losing its native species to encroachment, large-scale development projects, estates and monoculture plantations. A long-term solution is needed. The Forest First Samithi (FFS) aims to restore life to this area of the ghats.
The Samithi said, “We will undertake planting of native species in degraded forest lands, shrines, schools, abandoned farms, parts of estates, etc. to help preserve these species.”
First, they will run a pilot project on a 5-acre plot to identify risks and challenges and develop mitigation steps.
Other than just planting over 100 tree species, restoration will include fencing, building rainwater trenches, removal of lantana and other invasive species, maintenance and providing a livelihood for families in this region.
According to the Samithi, “This pilot project would provide a model plot for future Kodagu eco-restoration projects while creating livelihoods and enhancing biodiversity. We have so far successfully conserved over 100 species across many conservation plots, replicated farm-grove model where tree species are conserved along with coffee plantations, supported a network of nurseries.”
The floral species affected include those attracting pollinators, birds, frogs etc., riverine species, rare, endangered and threatened species and ethno-medicinal species.
The project will take care of risks like potential encroachment for firewood, threat of fire during summer, cattle grazing on the land while ensuring local employment to create livelihood by involving the local communities.
Support the FFS in helping preserve this biodiversity.