Children can enrich their knowledge about different kinds of flora especially the teak at the Nilambur nature park.

The Bioresources Nature Park and the Teak Museum of Nilambur in Malappuram district are beckoning children, particularly during the summer. Curious children staring in awe at a single plant species called teak (Tectona grandis) is a regular sight inside the Teak Museum — the only one of its kind in the world.

Involving children

The Park and the Teak Museum, run by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) within a sprawling campus at Nilambur, has several camps for students. Dozens of children who took part in the summer special camp held in April enjoyed their sojourn in the forests as well as classes on wildlife, teak and nature conservation. There were several competitions too.

In relation to the Teak Museum Day which will be celebrated on May 21, there will be essay writing and quiz competitions as well as a documentary film fest highlighting the importance of preserving woods. Come monsoon, there will be workshops in teak cultivation and management. The Wildlife Week will be celebrated in October. Two separate teak study camps will be held exclusively for students and trainee teachers in January. The World Forest Day celebrations usually held on March 21 also attract youngsters in large numbers.

And now, back to the uniqueness of the Teak Museum and Bioresources Nature Park. No other museum in the world is devoted to such a grand plant species called teak. Its scientific name, Tectona grandis, means ‘carpenter's pride' because it is the world's most ideal timber that can be put to any conceivable use from handicrafts to building ships. The museum is set in such a way as to give information on various aspects of teak, including history, cultivation, management, utilisation and socio-economics. The exhibits help students appreciate its aesthetic, scientific and cultural values.

All about teak

A visit to the Museum will not be complete without taking a stroll through the Connoly's Plot — the oldest scientifically developed teak plantation in the world. A couple of kilometres away on the other side of the Chaliyar, Conoly's Plot is home to some giant teak trees. One will certainly enjoy a small trek across the hanging bridge leading to the Connoly's Plot.

The Bioresources Nature Park, according to U.M. Chandrashekara, scientist in charge of the campus, is the first its kind in South India laying stress on nature education. “What makes this unique is the thematic gardens within it, including a butterfly park,” said Dr. Chandrashekara.

The Park has more than 2,000 species of plants. All of them are labelled to help students. The taxonomy garden on the Park is frequented by students of botany. Curious children examining different species of butterflies in the Butterfly Garden are an interesting sight. One cannot leave the garden without appreciating Southern Birdwing, South India's largest butterfly endemic to the Western Ghats.

Butterfly Garden has been set by growing various nectar producing plants as well as plants preferred by butterflies for food and laying eggs. Visit the Garden in September-October to see the butterflies in full glory.

The Nature trail through the Park depicts habit and habitat of various plants under such themes as orchids, palms, wild flowers and fruit trees, succulents, xerophytes, aquatic plants, gymnosperms, ferns, bryophytes, and thallophytes. “When you reach the classes in the next academic year, you will be an enriched lot,” Dr. Chandrashekara told a group of students.

The Park and Museum is worth a day's effort. It's open on all other days, including holidays, expect Mondays. The entry fee for students is Rs. 10. Contact: 04931- 222846 or 220218.