Biosphere Reserves in Kerala
The Indian government has established 17 Biosphere Reserves of India, which protect larger areas of natural and often include one or more National Parks and/or preserves, along buffer zones that are open to some economic uses. Protection is granted not only to the flora and fauna of the protected region, but also to the human communities who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life. Of these two were located in Kerala.
|Wayanad - Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is an International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats, Nilgiri Hills range of South India. The Western Ghats, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster conjoining the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.
The reserve encompasses 5,520 km² in the states of Tamil Nadu (2537.6 km²), Karnataka (1527.4 km²) and Kerala (1455.4 km²). It forms an almost complete ring around the Nilgiri Plateau.
Corresponding to their altitudinal and climatic gradients, the natural vegetation changes from tropical wet evergreen forest along the western slopes to montane stunted Shola forest amidst the grassy down on the upper plateau and on the east, progressively drier deciduous forests ending in thorny scrub. This setting is home for a variety of animals-the lion-tailed macaque in the evergreen forests, the Nilgiri tahr in the grassy downs, the black buck in the dry scrub and the tiger and the elephant throughout the region. To the north, the biosphere reserve begins in the Nagarhole National Park of Karnataka and the adjoining Wayanad sanctuary of Kerala. The moist deciduous forests and teak plantations of Nagarhole harbours abundant population of gaur, spotted deer, sambar and wild pig which support a sizeable number of carnivores such as tiger and leopard. Nagarhole is perhaps the best place in south India for sighting these large cats. The forest cover along the Kabini river has been reduced due to the construction of an irrigation dam. The biosphere reserve is split into four major zones viz. (i) Core Zone- 1240.3 sq. km. (22.5%) (ii) Manipulation forestry Zone-3238.7 sq. km (58.6%) (iii) Tourism Zone- 335.0 sq. km. (6.1%) (iv) Restoration Zone- 706.4 sq. km. (12.8%)
Mudumalai wild life sanctuary and national park (321.1 km²), Wayanad wildlife sanctuary ( 344km²), Bandipur national park (874km²), Nagarhole national park (643 km²), Nugu wild life sanctuary, Mukurthi national park (78 km²) and Silent Valley national park (89.52km²) are protected areas within this reserve. The Biosphere Reserve also includes zones of the Nilgiris open to forestry and tourism including: Nilgiris District (North (448.3 km²) and Nilgiris District South (198.8 km²)), Erode District (Sathyamangalam forest (745.9km²) and Erode (49.3 km²)) and Coimbatore District (696.2 km²) in Tamil Nadu. The reserve extends from the tropical moist forests of the windward western slopes of the Ghats to the tropical dry forests on the leeward east slopes. Rainfall ranges from 500 mm to 7000 mm per year. The reserve encompasses three ecoregions, the South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests, South Western Ghats montane rain forests, and South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests. The habitat types include montane rain forest, semi-evergreen moist forest, thorn forest and scrub, montane grassland, and high-elevation Shola forests.
Fauna and Flora:
Fauna includes over 100 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 80 species of reptiles; about 39 species of fish, 31 amphibians, 60 species of reptiles 316 species of butterflies and innumerable invertebrates. Rare animals include the tiger and the Nilgiri Tahr. The reserve has very rich plant diversity. Of 3300 species, 1232 are endemic.
Conservation and Management of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve:
Conservation and management of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve depends on the coordination between government agencies and the local people. For effective management, the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve has been zonalised as (a) core zone (1240 sq.km), (b) buffer zone (4280 sq.km). The buffer zone is further divided into manipulation zones like forestry, tourism and recreation zones. These zones are located in all the three states of Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala into which the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve extends. Most of the plantations are seen only in the manipulation zone. Being one of the hotspots of biodiversity, the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve has some national parks and wildlife sanctuaries within its boundaries. Conservation of wildlife is the main objective of these national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Some of these areas have been designated by the government as Project Tiger and Project Elephant areas.