'Chalk out programmes to conserve Shola forests'

'Chalk out programmes to conserve Shola forests'

Strengthening village forest committees need of hour: Ashisara

Western Ghats Task Force former president Ananth Hegde Ashisara has demanded the government to make a separate programme for the conservation of shola forest that plays a major role in maintaining the ground water table intact.

He was speaking to reporters after handing over a report on the study of the condition of forest in Chikmagalur, conducted by a team led by Indian Institute of Science scientist T V Ramachandra, to the deputy commissioner on Monday. The team was constituted as per the directions of the Western Ghats Task Force. Shola grass land and forest is unique to Western Ghats, therefore specific steps should be taken to preserve them.

The report said that plantation of same variety of saplings is not good for shola grassland, he said. “The participation of farmers and forest dwellers should increase to preserve forest on the banks of streams and lakes. Strengthening village forest committees is the need of the hour. Lives of lakhs of farmers and forest dwellers is dependent on forest,” Ashisara said.

The report emphasised on the need for a comprehensive environment project for the protection and maintenance of forests in Western Ghats that comprise the unique bio-diversity. The peaks of Kudremukh and Kemmannugundi have been damaged following mining activities. Diversion of streams and lakes and using them for irrigation, makes the streams dry. It diminishes the forest in river basin,” the environmentalist said.

The report has urged the need for taking up serious programmes for protecting the endangered variety of plants in Western Ghats. Protecting flora and fauna in Western Ghats will strengthen the bio-diversity chain, the report suggested.

Reduction in forest land

Scientist T V Ramachandra said that according to their study, 22,000 acre forest land in the district has been encroached. The forest coverage which was 52 per cent in 1876 in Koppa forest division has decreased to 32 per cent in 2009.

The forest which was spread over 52 per cent in Bhadravathi and Tarikere division has reduced to 34 per cent. Whereas in Chikmagalur division the forest area has decreased from 40 per cent to 24 per cent.

“This is an alarming trend. During the study we have identified a wide variety of butterflies and frogs. A bird which is on the verge of extinction too was found in Shola forest,” the scientist said.

Scientists Subhash Chandran demanded the government to give an opportunity to the scientists to make a comprehensive study on Shola forest and prepare a special programme. “After having done a study on forests in Shimoga district, we have now completed the study on the forests in Chikmagalur and have given important suggestions to the forest department for the conservation of forest,” he said.