COIMBATORE: The Longwood Shola forest in Kotagiri of The Nilgiris district has been granted The Queens Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) accreditation, a forest conservation initiative that began in 2015. Confirming this, Linda Yueh, executive chair of the Royal Commonwealth Society, sent a communication to Forest Minister K Ramachandran on Monday. Tillari Conservation Reserve (TCR) in Maharashtra was the first in the country to get this accreditation in March 2021.
The Longwood Shola forest was once overrun by invasive species and human intrusion. Thanks to the sustained efforts by the forest department, with help from locals, the place has been reclaimed and it is now well-protected.
Reacting to the development, Additional Chief Secretary of Environment, Climate Change and Forests Department Supriya Sahu said, “The recognition is a source of pride for all of us. I have been closely watching the developments of the Longwood Shola forest over the last 20 years.
Shola forest is life-giving as it retains water during rain and releases it slowly. We have a wetland there and over 18 villages depend on the water supply from there. This award proves that we can preserve forests. This is a bird’s paradise. We can also see the movement of small mammals, gaur and barking deer. Leopards are also using this landscape and tigers are also rarely spotted.”
Sahu added that the government was planning to set up an eco-friendly conservation centre to sensitise people about shola forests. K Kalidass, president of NGO Osai, said, “This recognition is well a deserved one for the forest, which is spread over 100 hectares.
The forest had a rampant movement of people and grazing earlier. However, it was restricted by erecting a fence. Then invasive species like wattle were removed by Longwood Shola Watchdog Committee members, consisting of forest department officials and local Keribetta villagers.”