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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kerala has set a model in nature conservation

Kerala had put forth a model for other States by initiating steps to protect ecologically fragile land, A.J.T. Johnsingh, former Dean, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, has said.
Inaugurating a seminar on ‘Save Nelliampathy Campaign’ launched by various environmental organisations in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday, Mr. Johnsingh said Kerala’s passion for conservation of nature was, in fact, a model for the rest of the country. The government was moving in the right direction and with people’s support, should be able to take over encroached lands, particularly the Nelliampathy estates in the Nemmara division.
Western Ghats
Such steps were essential for the protection of the Western Ghats. The primary function of such forests was to help rainfall, for which water conservation through protection of the forests was essential. The government should have the will power to evict those who had violated laws here, he said, pointing out that illegal developers meant more roads, which, in turn, meant more destruction of the forests.
States like Tamil Nadu did not have provisions for protection of ecologically fragile land, and in Kerala, where a strong model existed in the form of the Parambikulam sanctuary, a lot more could be done to conserve the forests.
Earlier, delivering the presidential address, poet and social activist Sugathakumari said the apathy on the part of the government in bringing violators of environmental laws to book was continuing and the situation was getting worse.
From Forest officials to the public and to politicians, there was a general trend to look down upon law and to disrespect law. There were official attempts as well to push forward small-scale farmers and labourers as pawns to fight whoever raised their voice in support of the environment.
The establishment had always been against those fighting for conservation of the environment and ways have to be devised to counter this attitude.
Calling upon forest officials to raise their voice against destruction of nature, Ms. Sugathakumari said more than environmental activists discussing such issues among themselves, the issue had to be taken to people’s representatives.

Mudumalai and Annamalai reserves buck global trend of declining biodiversity

Even as biodiversity decline is being reported from national parks worldwide, Mudumalai and Anamalai tiger reserves in Tamil Nadu have shown positive trends in sustaining its rich variety of flora and fauna.
This is the conclusion of a study taken up in 60 reserves in various parts of the world by a team of biodiversity researchers numbering more than 200. Raman Sukumar of the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISc), who was part of the team of researchers said that the mammalian fauna of Mudumalai was intact and, in fact, increasing.
Citing the example of both tiger and the elephant population in this dry, deciduous forest, Prof. Sukumar said: “The tiger is always considered as being at the apex of the food chain and also representing the health of the ecosystem. Similarly, the research has also showed that forest cover in both the reserves was largely intact for the past several decades.”
“Protected areas are often thought of as the last bastions of plant and animal species in a world that is experiencing rapid erosion in biodiversity as a consequence of developmental pressure. This belief has never been explicitly tested worldwide to see how effectively protected areas are performing in the biodiversity rich tropical regions,” he said.
The analysis published last month in the international journal Nature by a global consortium of conservation scientists examined the issue through data on biodiversity trends, developments and other environmental pressures over the last three decades at 60 protected areas across Asia-Pacific, African and American tropics, he said.
The study found that 50 per cent of the tropical reserves were experiencing serious declines in biodiversity, across many plant and animal groups. The ecological health of these protected areas was influenced not only by the levels of disturbance within the reserve but also the ecological pressures in the surrounding habitats.
Three important aspects mainly contributed to the biodiversity decline at the global level — habitat disruption, hunting and exploitation of forest produces. These parameters are under control in both Mudumalai and Anamalai Tiger Reserves. “In both the reserves, the forests are contiguous. Similarly, poaching and exploitation of non-timber forest produce have been significantly curbed over the past decade. Livestock grazing has also declined sharply in Mudumalai and its surrounding Sigur plateau,” he points out.
However, there is a need for monitoring the impacts of invasive species such as Lantana camara, which has expanded its growth over a period of time. Similarly, the pollution level of the Moyar, the major river flowing through the Mudumalai reserve, from its catchment in The Nilgiris, needs to be curtailed, he emphasises.