The Nanmangalam Reserve Forest, spread over 900 acres, will soon welcome visitors to an ‘Interpretation Centre’ coming up in its midst. The centre will aim at educating nature lovers about the rich flora and fauna of the forest.

Officials told The Hindu that a building to house the centre is nearing completion.

The centre will house displays of the commonly sighted birds and animals of the forest. The backlit displays, with a photo of the bird or animal, will provide details of its scientific name, Tamil name and distribution, and a brief.

A four-kilometre-long walkway that will allow birdwatchers to trek through the forest will be created in the coming months. Viewing decks, a canteen and toilet blocks are also on the cards. The cost of the civil works is estimated at Rs. 51 lakh.

Another building that is being constructed on the fringes of the forest will house the headquarters of the Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Conservation and Greening Project. A government order passed by the environment and forests department last year facilitated the Rs. 686-crore project, which is being implemented with financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The Public Works Department’s construction wing is being entrusted with the construction of this office.

Need for protection

However, naturalists have called for protection and insist that new initiatives and development projects should not be carried out at cost to the forest land.

“Barbed wire fencing is not enough. The Nanmangalam forest requires a permanent boundary wall to protect it from encroachers,” Vimala Srikanth, a resident of Nanmangalam, said.

The forest, according to the officials, is home to the Indian horned owl, in addition to raptors and reptiles. There was a proposal to introduce coracle rides (‘parisal’) in lakes formed in the abandoned quarries, which was later dropped.