In search of sacred groves

Karnataka Bio Diversity Board, taking note of this ‘irrelevant’ modernisation of sacred groves has assigned Pilikula Nisargadhama to conduct a survey on these and document the flora and fauna present, in view of its conservation.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Scientific Officer of Pilikula Nisargadhama Ramakrishna Marati said that concepts like ‘Devarakadu,’ ‘Nagabana’ and ‘Hulideverabana’ are forest fragments associated with the concept of presiding deity. They are communally protected and have significant connotation for the protecting community. Hunting and logging are strictly restricted within the patches. The groves may be sometimes associated with temples, monasteries, shrines or even with burial grounds.

However, in modern times, the groves face threat due to urbanisation, over-exploitation of resources and environmental destruction to construct temples and shrines.

The diminishing groves of the coastal belt that covers Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttar Kannada districts are a cause of concern because of the ecological and economic importance of the floristic diversity contained in them.

In view of the conservation of such groves, the Nisargadhama has been granted Rs two lakh by the government to conduct a survey in a span of one year.

The survey will be conducted in a scientific manner and will record all parameters of the sacred groves, recording the existing and endangered plant species, the existing fauna, endemic and rare species along with a study on the historical background of the grove.

The survey titled “Identification and preparation of a report on sacred groves in coastal Karnataka of Western Ghats region,” will be done by a team of five officers and will kick off by April end. It has been estimated that there are more than 10,000 groves in the region, says Marati. Once the survey is completed the data will be submitted to Karnataka Bio Diversity Board and forest departments to look into the conservation of groves, he adds.

“Nagabanas are a part of our rich cultural heritage but are getting destroyed due to modernisation. By conserving these groves, it is easier to focus on certain flora species which is near to extinction. This is one main reason the Pilikula Nisargadhama has undertaken this project,” says Pilikula Nisargadhama Executive Director J R Lobo.

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