Union Minister for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh will make the formal declaration of the 38th Tiger Reserve in India at Anappady in the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary of Kerala on Friday.

The Parambikulam Tiger Reserve will have a core area of 390.88 square kilometers, and a buffer zone of 257.77 square kilometers including part of Nenmara, Vazhachal and Chalakkudy forest divisions.

Announcing the function for declaration of the Reserve, Forest Minister Benoy Viswam said here on Tuesday that it was the most significant measure being taken by the Forest Department to conserve biodiversity in 2010, the International Year for Biodiversity. The Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary was the safest habitat for the national animal, tiger.

The Sanctuary harbours a cross-section of the biodiversity in the Western Ghats, including endangered and endemic species. It is the habitat of 1,500 flowering species, 39 mammals, 49 kinds of fishes, 32 reptiles, 16 amphibians, 61 orchids and 268 aves (birds).

The government had formed an expert committee to identify the core and buffer areas of the Reserve as directed by the Centre. The committee identified 235 square kilometers of the Parambikulam Wildlife

Sanctuary as the core area, and that was notified on December 31, 2007. Subsequently, the committee held hearings on including contiguous areas, which are rich in biodiversity, in the core area.

Discussions were held with local people, tribals, Hindusthan Newsprint Limited, panchayat authorities and owners and workers of the plantations in the area. Subsequently, the core area was fixed as 390.88 square kilometres and that was notified on December 16, 2009.

The buffer zone, which encompasses 11 tribal colonies, was notified the next day. The Minister said that nothing harmful to the plantations would be done as part of the development of the Tiger Reserve. However, certain estate owners felt that the Reserve would harm the interests of the estate workers. The government was committed to protect workers’ interests.

He said the Rosary, Cliff View, Beatrice and Thoothanpara estates, taken over by the Government on expiry of their lease, would continue to be under the Forest Department. A workers committee was running the Thoothanpara estate.