Ooty: L. Alphonse Raj, managing trustee of the Island Trust at Kotagiri, who is also the convener of the eco-organisation 'Nature's Eyelids', was invited to make his presentation at the UN conference on Climate Change which is underway at Bonn in Germany now. He explained how global warming would wreck havoc on mountain bio-diversity, water sources and livelihood rights of tribals.
Touching upon the Nilgiris in his talk, Alphonse Raj, said that the Nilgiris Biosphere reserve is the first of its kind in India and identified as one of the 14 rich bio-diversity hot spots in the world.
“The Nilgiris, which is considered as the water tank of south India, is also home to quite a few endemic flora and fauna. Besides this, it is home to six primitive tribes. Different elevations in the Nilgiris accounts for micro-ecology and micro-climatic conditions that support various species that adapted to the micro-ecological profile, he noted.
With climate change posing a threat to mountains, it is possible that it may lead to extremities in climate patterns that may result in severe rains and extreme droughts. These two factors are enough, either to cause landslides and damage agriculture or create water scarcity. This will test the survivability of some species that have adapted to a cold weather profile. Water scarcity will subject women to suffering for domestic water needs. Lack of water will ultimately affect the forest and wildlife and result in escalation of man-animal conflict, besides affecting hydro-power generation and tourism. This will, in course of time, severely affect the hill economy which in turn may force hill communities, especially tribals, to migrate to cities in search of employment. There are chances of new diseases emerging due to global warming,” he pointed out.
So, the need of the hour is to evolve plans for sustainable development and increase the green cover to save the mountains from the impact of climate change, he noted....