Western Ghats denuding faster than Bengaluru!

The current area of forest cover is 542,475 hectares.

Bengaluru: While the so-called Garden City of Bengaluru is today left with only one tree for every seven persons, the evergreen forest cover of Uttara Kannada district in the Western Ghats, one of the eight hotspots of biological diversity in the world, is showing an even more rapid decline.

An Indian Institute of Science (IISc) study using remote sensing data says the district is left with only 25.62 per cent evergreen forest cover ( 2013 data) as against 64.42 percent in 1979 . Lush in greenery, Uttara Kannada district is home to dry deciduous, moist deciduous, evergreen to semi- evergreen and coastal mixed deciduous forests due to its varied geographical terrain.

The study by Prof. T V Ramachandra, Bharath Setturu and M D Subash Chandran of the IISc says the forest cover has declined in many places, including the coastal taluks of Karwar, Ankola, Kumta, Honnavar and Bhatkal, the Sahyadri interior taluks, Supa, Yellapura, Sirsi and Siddapur and the two eastern plains.

“It took us three years of rigorous research between 2011 and 2014 to record the impact of unplanned development that has caused degradation of the forest cover in this biodiversity rich region. We have lost huge tracts of forest cover, especially around places where mega projects have been taken up,” said Mr Setturu.

IISc researchers conducting the survey in Western GhatsIISc researchers conducting the survey in Western Ghats

Besides developmental projects, the study blames unauthorised conversion of forest land for agriculture, the diversion of forest land for other purposes and logging of wood by forest-based industries for the decline in the district's forest cover.

Quantifying the loss, the study says the diversion of forest land under various schemes is to blame for the loss of 66,443 hectares, and unauthorised land conversion and implementation of many mega projects for the loss of 35,021 hectares. The current area of forest cover is 542,475 hectares. The researchers suggest reforestation and regeneration of natural vegetation with a holistic approach and involving all local stakeholders to ensure their full cooperation.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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