PATHANAMTHITTA: Gopher trees - whose wood, says the Bible, were used by Noah to create the Ark for surviving the great flood - enjoy VIP status in the Ranni forest in Pathanamthitta.
The forest department has set up permanent preservation plots in the Ranni division for Gopher trees, known as 'Nirampalli' in local parlance, and has deployed a special team to carry out patrolling for monitoring and protecting the trees. These preservation plots are located at Thirukuthi and Kadamankunnu in Ranni's Goodrickal forest range.
"It is believed that Noah built the Ark using Gopher tree wood. Our preservation plots have 38 trees that are one year old as well as five mature Gopher trees (Nageia wallichiana). The trees are found only in some parts of the world and forest officials set up preservation plots for their preservation. Researchers and others who are interested can visit the place with the department's permission and study about the rare trees," said Goodrickal forest range officer Money S. The plots were set up after studies by the Kerala Forest Research Institute.
"The trees are very precious and rare. The department is taking every possible step to protect them. After setting up preservation plots, fire lines were marked. Patrolling is done daily by a special team of the Pachakkanam forest station," the forest officials said.
"Our objective is to conserve the trees by preserving their habitat in optimum condition. Our permanent preservation plots are at Thirukuthi (site-1) and Kadamankunnu (site-2). The places have natural distribution of Nageia wallichiana over 4.5 hectares. Four 20mx20m sample plots have been set up. Moisture conservation pits, fire protection works have also been set up. There are fire lines around the sites to protect the seedlings in the plot from forest fire. Fire watchers have also been deployed for the protection of the site," said Money S.