PROPOSAL FOR

KOTACHADRI ENVIRONMENT SENSITIVE AREA

 ( KESA )

CHAPTER 1.

INTRODUCTION

 1.0  The need for special protection measurers to save Western Ghats

A Task of Extraordinary Importance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perennial supply of Water,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climate Regulation

 

 

 

The Western Ghats, stretching over 1600 km. from Gujrath to Kanya Kumari  southern tip and covering  160,000 sq.kms, forms a prominent part of peninsular India, housing diverse verities of plants and animals needs immediate protection. These hill ranges are fountain head of several life sustaining rivers which supply water to entire South India. It is the permanent and the only source of Water Security. The Ecosystem of Western Ghats is a veritable store house of Biological Diversity which is yet to be fully enlisted and studies. As it is, lot of pristine forests have been lost and its effects are reflected in the form of water shortage all over South India, including the western strip of Western Ghats. Recognized as one of the 18 Ecological Sensitive Areas of the World, the Western Ghats are our proud Natural Heritage to be cherished and zealously guarded. Thus this is a task of  extraordinary importance.  

 

The forests that clothe the Western Ghats are the water sheds of major river systems of South India. The small area of KESA in central Western Ghats of Karnataka alone gives rise to  such as Tunga, Bhadra and Netravathi.These forests regulate and ensure the flow of water into the rivers long after the seasonal rainfall. They protect the rich soil underneath and prevent erosion of precious top soil. Presence of Trees and trillions of diverse organisms, myriads of life forms ensure that the Forest land is converted into a living sponge, which imbibes  enormous quantity of rain water, which later gets slowly released into the rivers. In the absence of these forests, the lashing rains would wash away the precious top soil, and the whole of south India would be flooded during Monsoon. The silt thus washed away will chock rivers, dams and reservoirs. These rivers would go dry immediately after monsoon, leading to drought. Floods and famines would be the order of the day grossly affecting the food  security. The survival of these forests is, therefore, critical to the welfare of millions of farmers who depend on these rivers.  When we protect wildlife from human destruction we are not indulging in a luxury that we cannot afford in a poverty-stricken, overpopulated country as argued by some.  We are, in fact, protecting the soil-water resources that sustain millions of people in Southern part of our Country. One need not wait for these things to happen, it is already happening. Wynad in Kerala for example which receives over 5000 mm of rains per year, now suffers from acute  water shortage. Are we to allow such a scenario all over South India  or are we going to do something  to protect the Western Ghats, and thus ensure water availability for now and future. Water shortage being experienced all over South India - is in fact, a warning. If we do not act now it will be too late.

 Forests are reliable source of Water security. In the long run, a well preserved forest will lead to perennial supply of water.  It is well known fact that the Forests play a key role in regulating the climatic condition of the region. This fact, that the undisturbed forests maintain a lower temperature and higher moisture   than in the disturbed forests, has been proved beyond doubt. While in disturbed forests, wind speed is higher ( Joseph 1  ) Many more studies, some of which have been supported by MoEF, have indicated that the Shola forests too retain considerable amount of Water, and thus Sholas,  in fact,  are the fountain head of several rivers. Loss of forests will lead to desert like situation.  As it is, the Fallow areas, the over exploited zones, are ever on the increase in the Western Ghat areas. If left uncontrolled they would engulf the entire range.

 

"These diverse life forms took millions of years to evolve; we have only just begun to document their extraordinary variety and diversity.  Consequently, we have barely understood the complex ecological linkages among these plants and animals; certainly not enough to predict how the elimination of one species may affect the fate of others" -  Eugene P Odum

 

Biodiversity –Wealth par excellence

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untapped potential

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aesthetic reasons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ecosystems can’t be recreated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the Drugs we use now as well as sources of Energy, fibers and Structural materials come from just  a few exploited species of these living Forests. Many more unknown species, which would have medicinal and nutritional value are bound to exist in these forests. As we learn more about these forms many of them may become central to our welfare. In fact all of our crop-plants and domesticated Animals  are bread from their wild relatives. We are yet to explore potentially beneficial species from the vast barely tapped and understood wild gene pool

The wildlife habitats are wonderful laboratories of nature, an irreplaceable library of life.  In these we can study nature at work and benefit from the knowledge we gain.  Moreover, the wild landscapes that now harbor our wildlife comprise less than 3 percent of our country’s landscape of which only 1 percent is in violate for wildlife.  Apart from such practical reasons, there are also ethical and aesthetic reasons for saving wildlife.  Forests that sustain animal and plant communities are products of millions of years of natural evolution.  Don’t they have a right to survive and evolve as nature intended them to, at least in some parts of the once-green earth that we have so drastically modified? Once we destroy these intricate ecological webs there is no bringing them back.

 

The important benefits of the Western Ghats mentioned above and several other untold ones, less apparent but equally important, come to us as natural byproduct of the Ecosystem. It is essential to understand the nature of Ecosystem to understand in order to appreciate this fact. Many seem to think that Ecosystem is just a random assemblage of Plants and Animals. Many  can’t easily comprehend or aware of the fact that an Ecosystem is at a  higher level of Organization than the individual species which are found in it.  The Ecosystem System functions like a highly complex Organism. A well maintained  Zoo or a well hoarded  Aquarium can not be termed as an Ecosystem. Because in the above cases, an active interaction between the components, however diverse, is totally lacking, they need constant attention and interference from humans. But it is not so in an Ecosystem. The organisms there have evolved together over millions of years. Feeding and breeding patterns have been stabilized.  Energy flow patterns,  material cycles and breeding cycles have been coordinated and stabilized over eons. Common understanding is that in the forests and other natural ecosystems, negative interactions like eating being eaten, that is,  Predation and Parasitism dominate. But Ecologists have unraveled the truth  that it is the cooperative activities which abound in a natural ecosystem and not chaos and conflicts ( Odum 2 ) .

Fortunately the Ecosystems are Dynamically balanced, so the smaller disturbances such as removal of some organisms or even  species,  have not resulted in collapse of the entire system. But to day so many species are becoming extinct.

 

As mentioned earlier, an Ecosystem is not a random assemblage of plant and animals,  they have a complex organization and have evolved for over millions of years. One should never be under the impression that Ecosystems can be easily assembled and sustained by the Modern Science. Some of the Scientists  are under he impression that vanishing species can be as easily revived back as shown in Steven Spielberg’s magnum opus ‘Jurassic Park’. It would involve huge amount of money even to preserve the Genome of a species and unravel its intricacies, and  to recreate it, even assuming that one has all the necessary detailed Genome bases and sophisticated facilities to do so, it would cost billions of rupees. This being the case for one single animal,  reconstruction of an Ecosystem will be a far fetched and an  impossible dream. Experiments called ‘Biosphere’ I and II have clearly illustrated that maintaining an Ecosystem is next to impossible. Several billions of Dollars, and a  team of Experts  Scientists and hi tech monitoring Equipment to monitor practically every aspect of the system, were used. But the experiment to maintain an Ecosystem artificially failed. So it is wise to maintain an existing Ecosystem rather than to try to create a new one after the present system collapses.

 

"Many  can’t easily comprehend or are aware of the fact that an Ecosystem is at a  higher level of Organization than the individual species which are found in it.  The Ecosystem System functions like a highly complex Organism." .. Eugene P Odum

 

 

 

Ecosystem –source of all benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question of Ethics

 

 

We, the human beings forget that, we are as much a part of the Ecosystem of the world as the other species. We are totally dependent on the Ecosystem. So, Destruction of Ecosystem is disastrous to mankind . Prof Paul Ehrlich, Population Biologist brings home the potential danger of the degradation of the Ecosystem through species loss and other forms such as depletion of forests by giving a striking analogy ( often quoted by Wildlife First Group ). He compares the Ecosystem to a Aeroplane and in the analogy the species are the rivets which hold the body and wings intact. One can go on removing the rivets one by one for quite a while, no single rivet will determine when the wings will be dislodged and the plane will crash. Ultimately one particular rivet would surely will lead to sudden devastation, sinking it into precipice along with the human race !. Each species that become extinct is like wrenched out rivet from our living Plane. The planners obsessed with the Development paradigm should wakeup to  this warning. 

The question of Ethics as to whether the other species of the planet have a right to live or not to live on the planet is eternal. It has loomed to a mega proportion in the recent past, especially due to the dominance of the human race on the planet aided with advancement of Science. We, the Humans,  feel that anything can be done or undone, like even revival of species which become extinct, with the knowledge of Science. The question as to what rights we have to destroy our fellow beings, the multifarious species, that have evolved before us ? Don’t they have a right to survive and evolve as nature intends ? Can’t we allow this to go on un interrupted at least in some green parts of earth, which other wise we have so drastically modified ?  Survey by Wild Life First,  indicates that in our country  the real wild landscapes occupies less than 3%!, rest 97 % is disturbed or altered.

 

One  survey indicates that in our country  the real wild landscapes occupies less than 3%!, rest 97 % is disturbed or altered.

 

Purple Frog

 

A very rare species of Frog, the Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, the Purple Frog , discovery of which the year  created a World wide fervor, because it was supposed to have evolved and contemporary of the Great Dinosours of Mesozoic Era. The  discovery of  this small little Frog was heralded as one of the land mark discoveries in the annals of Biology. It is just one of the examples to illustrate that the Western Ghats are a veritable store house of such forms hither to unknown for the biologist of the World. Though this species was discovered in the Western Ghats of northern part of Kerala, the find is indeed out standing and has the potential to get  the entire Range of Western Ghats declared as Ecologically Sensitive Area.   

 

 

The Purple Frog, a Mesozoic Legacy

 

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