The ‘Kannimar Shola’ area is a unique wet evergreen forest type in the eastern ghats with medicinal plants diversity, and other rare and endangered plant species

Rich in natural vegetation and comprising a large number of endemic, endangered and vulnerable plant species, the vast patch of ‘Kannimar Shola’ in the scenic Pachamalai hills has been identified as a zone of significant floral diversity by the State forest department.

The department has proposed to accord a special status to the nearly 200-hectare ‘Kannimaar Shola’ area and designate it as a Medicinal Plant Conservation Area (MPCA) for in situ conservation of medicinal plant species and other plant species in natural habitats by involving the local community in the hills.

The ‘Kannimar Shola’ area is a unique wet evergreen forest type in the eastern ghats with medicinal plants diversity, and other rare and endangered plant species.

The thick vegetation acts a central habitat for many birds and different species of butterflies.

Having identified the vast patch as a biodiversity hot spot and as an MPCA, the department will soon forward a detailed project to the National Medicinal Plants Board, a statutory body, seeking funds for in situ conservation of natural vegetation most of which were being used by the tribals for making traditional medicines.

The conservation strategy would be devised with active involvement of the local community by constituting joint forest management committees and protect the area from biotic factors of degradation such as illicit felling of trees, grazing, fire and destructive methods of collection of medicinal plants, says District Forest Officer I. Anwardeen.

The department has also proposed to carry out a floristic survey of the area to determine the species composition and identify rare, endangered and threatened listed plant species besides monitoring their regeneration status. Complete documentation of the species is also proposed to be done once the funds are sanctioned.

There are 11 MPCAs in different places in Tamil Nadu including in Kodaikanal, Kolli hills in Salem, Top Slip near Pollachi, Alagarkoil in Dindigul, Pechiparai in Kanyakumari, and Thenmalai in Tiruppatur. Mr. Anwardeen said MPCAs are reserve forest sites of high biodiversity value and known for their medicinal plant diversity.

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