Agasthya 6.3 Temple gardens a refuge for biodiversity
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Centre for Excellence in Conservation Science
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Telephone: 080-23635555 (EPABX)
Fax : 080- 23530070

The plains abutting the hills of Agasthyamalai are dotted with hundreds of temples both big and small which are laid out among the fields and human settlements. Last summer, my interest in the fields of ecology and nature conservation, brought me to this landscape, from my native temperate country of France. Setting the Agasthyamalai Community- Based Conservation centre as my base, I started assessing biodiversity of temple gardens or 'Nandavanam'. My excitement was double fold as this was an opportunity to learn to assess biodiversity and also an exposure to the wonderful temple architecture of south India and its culture. Temple gardens can serve as repositories for local biodiversity in a matrix of human settlements and fields. However, our preliminary survey of the temple gardens revealed that native plants are slowly giving way to the fancy horticultural varieties. What was earlier open soil are being laid with concrete that reduces the area for plants. I worked on four taxa, birds, butterflies, small mammals and plants that are associated with the temple gardens. I visited 61 temples in all, accompanied by Saravanan - my essential companion for plant identification, Mathivanan who carried out a social survey with the temple authorities and Marie-Noelle who was working on bats in the ancient temples. The work in these temples was about collecting data, but for me it was more than that. It was about observing wildlife from the sub-tropics for the first time in a practical way: learning how to watch and recognize the birds and butterflies, learning to be attentive to every little thing that surrounds you. After having visited all the 61 temples, I had quite a massive dataset to carry out preliminary statistical analysis. I noticed some correlations between flora and fauna which I hope will be helpful for ATREE to design a management plan for temple gardens with a purpose to increase their biodiversity.



Editorial Team
Editor: Allwin Jesudasan
Associate editor: Rajkamal Goswami
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh
Design and presentation: Kiran Salagame

Volume 6,  Issue 3
      November 2012

A S H O K A   T R U S T   F O R   R E S E A R C H   I N   E C O L O G Y   A N D   T H E   E N V I R O N M E N T

Temple gardens a refuge for biodiversity
- Lise Nuninger
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