Biodiversity board plans to create forest ecosystems with students' help
The Kerala State Biodiversity Board is planning to create a network of man-made forest ecosystems to preserve rare, endangered, and threatened species of plants and contribute to local animal biodiversity.
The participatory project, named Shanti Sthal, aims at creating woodlots on 10 to 20 cents under every local self-government institution. Forests will be planted and maintained according to standard protocol for three years. After the initial phase, the area will be protected and maintained free of human activities to promote a safe and peaceful habitat for local fauna.
Clubs to be formed
The project is planned as an activity of the Biodiversity Club proposed to be established in colleges and higher secondary schools. In the initial phase, it will be confined to colleges.
“The clubs are meant to promote conservation activities at the local level. They will work closely with the panchayat-level Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) to address environmental issues,” says K.P. Laladhas, member secretary, KSBB. “Over time, the woodlot is expected to become a biodiversity spot like a natural forest, benefiting students and researchers.”
Initially, KSBB will fund the Biodiversity Clubs for creating and protecting the forest ecosystem. The clubs will work with BMCs in carrying out biodiversity surveys and updating People's Biodiversity Registers. They will assess the local biodiversity and come up with programmes on utilisation and benefit sharing. The clubs will also conduct awareness programmes on environment and biodiversity conservation.
The college Principal will be the patron of the Biodiversity Club while a teacher committed to conservation activities will be appointed as coordinator. The club will have an executive committee. The district coordinator of the Biodiversity Board, BMC members, local forest officer and agricultural officer will be invitees. The club will have a minimum of 50 students drawn from various classes.
Once the trees are planted, they will be given name boards showing their local and botanic names. The college will prepare and maintain a register showing the plants and animals in the ‘Shanti Sthal.'
Fruit trees for fauna
The project seeks to propagate endemic trees and plants, with special emphasis on fruit trees that provide a suitable atmosphere and habitat for birds and small animals. “It is an attempt to develop and maintain biodiversity spots as a public-private partnership. Through this venture, we hope to create better awareness of biodiversity conservation,” Dr. Laladhas says.