Western Ghats: An Adorable Nature

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Western Ghats Mountains is older than the Himalayan Mountains, which represents geomorphic features of immense importance for its unique biophysical and ecological characteristics. Highly dense forests on the Ghats influence the pattern of the monsoon. The Western Ghats depicts planets one of the best examples of the monsoon system. Ghats is also unique for its beauty, biological diversity and endemism and because of it is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity.

The mountain range of Western Ghats (around 140,000 km² in area) starts from the border of India's western states (i.e. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu ending at Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India). The forests in the Western Ghats are the water towers of peninsular India. 58 major rivers including the Godavari, the Cauvery, and the Krishna originate from here. For instance, one square km of forest in Uttara Kannada provides close to Rs 7.38 million worth of timber, about Rs 1.1 million worth of fuel wood and Rs 3.2 million worth of medicinal plants and fruits. Not only 50 million people, but these Ghats is also home for about 4,000 species of flowering plants, 645 species of evergreen trees, about 120 species of mammals, 500 species of birds and many reptiles, butterflies and fishes. Additional to that, the recreational benefits from Dandeli and Anshi protected areas (ranging from Tiger Reserves, National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, and Reserved Forests) are worth about Rs 11.37 billion just from a portion of the forest, then the estimated value of 1, 29,000 sq km of the Western Ghats would be huge.

States protected all these areas with subject to stringent protection under laws including Wildlife (protection) Act of 1972, the Indian Forest Act of 1927 and the Forest Conservation Act (1980). The forestry department and chief wildlife warden are providing a legal protection to these areas. Almost 40% of the valuable property is lying outside of the formal protected area system, mostly in Reserved Forests, which are legally protected and effectively managed. The Forest Conservation Act (1980) providing the regulatory framework to protect them from infrastructure development. Unfortunately, it has been found that forests have been cleared for agriculture and construction purposes which lead to 40% forests lost in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu region. This deforestation not only degrades the unique but will also affect rainfall patterns, river flow, water supply and climate across large swathes of the country.

In 2011; Dr. Madhav Gadgil, an environmentalist and Padmashri recipient asked the concerned government bodies to take immediate action against gross violations of environmental laws in many parts of the state. According to Dr. Gadgil the Western Ghats should be considered as eco-sensitive. To take an action a “Gadgil Commission” is also known as “Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel” (WGEEP) was drafted by Madhav Gadgil. Recently an unexpected monsoon and worst natural calamity in the Western Ghats should be an eye opener for us. Natural calamities in the Western Ghats can be attributed to human anthropogenic activities which devastated landslides and flash floods. Aptly expressed by Mahatma Gandhi that “Earth Provides Enough to Satisfy Every Man's Need but Not Every Man's Greed” elucidates that the nature earth has enough resources & means to meet the basic requirements of a man but it can’t serve the endless greed of man. The greed for more often results in the pernicious wound & massive exploitation of life. If we still continue our same action on nature then nature will act on its own so let’s save our nature and save our future.

Author: Omprakash Sarkar, SRF, Bioengineering and Environmental Sciences Lab, CEEF, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT), India

Image source: The Jog Falls, one of the most spectacular falls in the Western Ghats eco region (https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-biodiversity-hotspot-of-the-western-ghats-india.html)

References:

  1. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/environment/flora-fauna/western-ghats-biodiversity-faces-threat-says-report/articleshow/61729657.cms
  2. Why India must protect the Western Ghats from getting lost. (https://www.hindustantimes.com/india/why-india-must-protect-the-western-ghats-from-getting-lost/story-gvb5C0b1PJAZlw211YUxOM.html
  3. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/western-ghats-under-threat-report/article8548821.ece
  4. Western Ghats, https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1342

Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator
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