and Conservation of the Agasthyamalai region, Western Ghats, India.
I recently had an opportunity to travel round the Agasthyamalai mountains and visit some of the last remaining lush and beautiful forests of Kerala. The whirl-wind tour also took us through large stretches of abandoned tea plantations where not everything was so lush and beautiful. Many people who live here in a remote unconnected world are on a hand to mouth existence. The government is distributing land rights to people for housing in these areas but most of the people want to move out and live elsewhere. In situations where such plantations are inside protected areas and no development is ideally possible one may think of leaving the tea to the forests and provide people with a more conducive environment elsewhere. But that is easier said than done. Where is the land for these people, how will one counter the all powerful union and will the government have the `will’ to pay compensation for biodiversity? These and many other questions will have to be answered sooner or later if we want actions to be taken to conserve our biodiversity and people’s needs, in a changing world.
On the Tamil Nadu side of the Agasthyamalai, it was another eventful four months. The KMTR has a new Field Director; it was visited by the IUCN team who came as part of the larger effort to make the Western Ghats a World Heritage site, the annual fair at the Sorimuthian temple happened in August and ATREE conducted its first conservation science course at its new field station. In the midst of all this we also had to hear the sad news of several wild boar and sambar killed by electrocution close to the forest; do we then have to blame the wild dogs for eating tiger prey? The human ones are more potent.
I hope you are continuing to enjoy reading Agasthya and as always we hope you will give us those little tips and goodies that have kept us going so far.