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15 sacred groves receive assistance

Staff Reporter
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Forest Department signs memorandums of association for protection, enhancement of biodiversity

PROTECTING GREEN COVER:Ponnakkudam Kavu, a sacred grove, at Thevakkal, near Kochi.— Photo: Thulasi Kakkat
PROTECTING GREEN COVER:Ponnakkudam Kavu, a sacred grove, at Thevakkal, near Kochi.— Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

As many as 15 sacred groves in the district have received assistance for their conservation efforts.

Sacred groves are patches of greenery that support indigenous biodiversity and are normally associated with places of worship such as temples.

Sacred groves are fast losing ground in the State. There has been reduction in their numbers and size over the years.

Early documents on Kerala indicated that there were around 10,000 groves in the Travancore region itself. The total number of groves in the State at present might be around 1,200, said N.C. Induchoodan, a former forest official who had conducted studies on sacred groves.

The Social Forestry wing of the Kerala Forest Department has signed memorandums of association with the owners of select groves for protection, enhancement of biodiversity and awareness programmes.

Protection of natural water sources, including ponds inside the sacred groves, was one of the thrust areas of the programme, said D. Rajendran, Assistant Conservator of Forest (Social Forestry), Ernakulam.

The owners of the green spaces were also urged to identify the plant species in the groves.

Such efforts have already been taken up in Ponnakkudam Kavu, Thevakkal. The funds could be used for the protection and development of water source, fencing of the groves and adding to the biodiversity by planting more species, he said.

The Ponnakkudam Kavu is managed by the trustees of the Ponnakkudam Bhaghavathy Temple. Researchers had identified around 300 plant species in the grove, spread over an area of four acres, said P.K. Ramachandran, president of the trust.

Studies held at the grove revealed the presence of at least 10 rare plant varieties. The grove, which resembles a forest, also supports a wide variety of birds and animals.

This is for the first time that 15 groves were rewarded for their conservation efforts in the district. Funds are released on the basis of the micro plan prepared by the owners of the groves. Last year, only six kavus were given funding, said Mr. Rajendran.

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