Biodiversity and ecosystem services restoration of grasslands in Tirunelveli district
Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi regions have been known for extensive grasslands. The semi-arid climate and porous soil type provide suitable conditions for grasslands. Historically grasslands were used for extensive livestock rearing, leading to the evolution of unique breeds adapted to the conditions. Grasslands were also known for the extinct cheetah and birds like bustards. In recent times, these grasslands, also called Meikal peromboke in the government records, have been converted to various land uses, fragmented and degraded. In this UN decade of restoring ecosystems, it’s important we try to bring back some of these grasslands in the districts. The proposal is part of this initiative to restore a degraded 52 ha of land into a fully functional grassland. We will restore native grass species and associated flora and fauna through a series of interventions and monitoring. The effort is likely to last more than 5 years and is expected to benefit both local pastoralists and biodiversity. This will be first of its kind restoration effort for the grasslands in Tamil Nadu and has good scope for scaling it up to other districts.