Forest Department launching ecotourism project

Enter deep forests and watch wild animals at close range. Go boating and trekking. Or walk in the clouds and hop from treetops to treetops.

The Forest Department is launching an ecotourism project, most probably by August 15, with the Kakki-Anathode twin reservoirs and Gavi as the locus.

The reservoirs of the Sabarigiri hydroelectric project is in the Ranni forest division. R. Kamalahar, Divisional Forest Officer, told The Hindu here on Tuesday that the idea was to make people aware of the importance of forest conservation by taking them on a tour of the forests, familiarising them with the flora and fauna.

Boating in the reservoirs and a forest trail would be the main attractions of the project in its first phase.

The department was exploring the feasibility of introducing a trekking package, cloud-walk, jungle huts, treetops walk and so on in the second phase.

Mr. Kamalahar said only 100 tourists would be allowed a day and they would be taken to the forests on custom-built 25-seat buses to watch the wild animals in the enchanting forests.

The bus would start from the Kochandy check-post to Gavi. Tourists could drive to Gavi, 60 km from the check-post, with permission.

They could book the day-long trips over the phone at a special counter to be opened at the check-post. Entry into the forests from Kochandy would be allowed only between 7 a.m. and noon.

Mr. Kamalahar said the department had to comply with rules, regulations and guidelines issued from time to time for the conservation of the Periyar Tiger Reserve.

Vanasree, a forest development agency of the department, would operate the ecotourism project.

The agency would open refreshment stalls and eco-shops at Kochandy, Kakki and Gavi.