The Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) has drawn up a project for protection and conservation of plant bio-diversity in the Western Ghats areas where mono-culture over the years has severely affected plant diversity.

In Vattavada and Kanthallur villages, the spreading of eucalyptus plantations not only resulted in the drainage of ground water level but also a large scale shift in the pattern of cultivation.

The eucalyptus plants were first cultivated in the forest zone as part of a project for greening the barren areas. It slowly spread to the cultivating areas further reducing the land under vegetable cultivation.

The spreading of mono-culture is doing harm to species biodiversity and ecosystem diversity, KSBB Chairman Oommen V. Oommen told The Hindu on Wednesday. He said that as per the data of the forest department, the plant biodiversity in the Pampadumchola forest is below 1,000, which is considerably low when compared to the evergreen forest areas of the Western Ghats.

Mr Oommen said that the eucalyptus was planted in the areas without any ecological studies or scientifically evaluating its impact.

He said that the bio-diversity conservation projects will be launched with the help of the local bodies of the two villages and about 100 acres of land will be developed as organically cultivated area in Vattavada in the first phase of the project.

Mr. Oommen said that it will be implemented with the support of the National Bio-Diversity Authority and as part it, a team will be visiting the Vattavada and Kanthallur areas soon.

The eucalyptus plants spread in the two villages as it provided an income to the farmers by selling the timber in every six years. Moreover, the areas do not needed to be replanted as the plants will branch out from the remaining old trunk.

According to K.P. Laladas, KSBB member secretary, the monoculture spread in the buffer zone areas of the forest and the government has given a green signal for vis-à-vis elimination of the monoculture that also affect the growth of the natural endemic plants. It will be implemented as a comprehensive plan with the involvement of the local bodies to bring back traditional agriculture practices in the two villages, he said.

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