KOCHI: From afar, the Pampadum Shola National Park is breathtaking, with its variety of evergreen plants and trees. However, a closer look tells one that this area is one of the most threatened bio-diversity places in Kerala.
Unchecked growth of eucalyptus and the wattle tree are posing a threat to the flora and fauna, as well as the water levels in the adjoining grama panchayats. The Vattuvada gramapanchayat, according to a study by the Munnar Wildlife Division, was the most affected.
In order to restore the grasslands the forest department, along with NGO’s ‘Let’s Go For a Camp’ and ‘One Earth One Life’ organised a three-day camp for women. Around thirty participants were taught how to restore the grasslands.
According to programme coordinator Geethu Mohandas, the women spent hours weeding out stubble from wattle trees. “These were grown by plantation owners in the past.
However, since they were imported, it affected the ecological balance. Over the years, a few fires destroyed a section of these trees. The forest department considers this a blessing in disguise. Now, they plan to clear up the stubble and plant more grassland cover in the hilly terrains,” she said.
For this, the forest department decided to involve the public. “They felt that it was better since people would get a first-hand experience about the need to conserve the natural habitat.
This is why, several camps are being organised,” said Sudhina V K, who is also coordinator of the programme.
As part of the camp, trekking and group activities were also organised. Prasad, the wildlife warden with the park, spoke on the importance and impact of the grasslands and national parks.
There was also an interactive session with Dr Rajan, a biologist, who spoke about the bio-diversity of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The participants also did a five-kilometre trek through the Bandhar route.
A similar camp will be held towards March end.