Rewilding revolution: Kerala Forest Department partners with NGOs to restore ecosystems

A Kerala Forest Department official said the proposed land had high conservation value as it was an important habitat for flora and fauna.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published May 11, 2024 | 1:00 PMUpdatedMay 11, 2024 | 1:00 PM

A forest in Kerala.

In a significant stride towards conservation, the Kerala Forest Department will reportedly undertake a “rewilding” process across 1.6323 hectares of land in Karulai village in Malappuram.

Through this, the department aims to restore healthy ecosystems by creating wild, biodiverse spaces.

In short, it is said to be looking to rebuild ecosystems that were previously “modified by human disturbance”.

And it is reportedly looking to do so “using the plant and animal life that would have been present had the disturbance never occurred”.

Facilitating them in this exercise will be a Kolkata-based NGO, which made the effort to purchase the land from private individuals on behalf of a US-based NGO.

Upon purchasing the land, it expressed interest in registering and transferring that land to the Forest Department.

Also Read: Nanjangud-Nilambur railway line will be disastrous for environment, say protesters

Significance of the land

According to a Forest Department official, the proposed land is of high conservation value as it is an important habitat for a variety of flora and fauna.

They include major mammals like elephants, tigers, leopards, and sambar deer.

“This land is part of Sankarankode enclosure, which is surrounded by new Amarambalam Reserve Forests and part of Nilambur Elephant Reserve,” the officer told South First.

He added, “The area is situated in the corridor connecting the Karimpuzha Wildlife Sanctuary, the Silent Valley National Park on the Kerala side, and the Mukkurty National Park on the Tamil Nadu side. It has a high conservation value.”

It is learnt that Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) D Jayaprasad examined the proposed land.

He recommended to the KErala government that the land was “highly beneficial for ensuring the continuity of elephant habitat and reducing the impact of human-animal conflicts in the surrounding landscape”.

Also read : Kerala farmers chop down trees to deter elephant attacks

NGO’s efforts

Kolkata-based Nature Mates Nature Club (NMNC) purchased the land from private individuals.

As per a document accessed by South First, three individuals from the Karulai village — Afsar, Assainar, and Abdul Kareem — gave their land to the NMNC.

It is learnt that the NMNC had undertaken the purchase by using funds given by the US-based NGO Voice for Elephants Society.

Upon purchase, it approached the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, who on 27 April requested the government to accord approval for registering and transferring 1.6323 hectares of land in the Sankarankode enclosure to the Kerala Forest Department.

The government, considering the request, permitted the chief wildlife warden to take over the land on 8 May.

Also Read: Kerala takes steps to contain human-wildlife conflict

Rewilding

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is an international organisation working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, and a lot more.

According to it, rewilding is the idea of reversing biodiversity loss and creating wild landscapes by allowing nature to reclaim areas no longer under human management has gained much attention as an optimistic approach to conservation.

It also points out that rewilded ecosystems can help mitigate climate change by increasing carbon removal from the atmosphere and protect against climate change impacts by reducing soil erosion and flood risk.

“Rewilded ecosystems can also create socio-economic opportunities for local communities, reduce the effects of and costs associated with environmental hazards (such as flooding), and improve human health and wellbeing by improving access to nature,” observes IUCN.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)