Special Correspondent

KANNUR: Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac's announcement in his Budget speech on Friday that financial assistance will be provided for the protection of mangroves will bring cheer to green activists in the district, which has the largest area under mangroves in the State.

The Budget proposes that since a large extent of mangrove forests in the State is under the control of private individuals, a fixed amount per hectare as incentive be given to them for their preservation.

Environmental groups have been demanding measures for the protection of large swathes of mangrove forests, mostly owned by private individuals, in the region.

The area under mangroves along the State's coastline has shrunk over the years with their conversion for development activities.

The district is estimated to have 3,500 ha of the total 4,200 ha of mangrove forests in the State. The mangroves-rich areas in the district include Kunhimangalam, Ezhimala, Payyannur, Pazhayangadi, Chempallikkundu, Keeriyad, Ayiramthengu, Valapattanam, Kattampally, Edakkad, Dharmadam, and Thalassery.

Azhikyur, Monthal, Kolavipalam, Analikkadavu, Akalapuzha, Eranhikkal, Pavangad, Elathur, Kottoli, Olavanna, Beypore, Chaliyam and Kadalundi in Kozhikode also have mangrove forests.

Forest officials complain that private possession of the areas under mangroves is an obstacle to enforcing measures to protect them.

Another budgetary proposal to provide incentives for the conservation of sacred groves (‘kavus') based on their extent will also hearten nature lovers.

The kavus are mostly concentrated in north Malabar, especially in the region between the Mahe river in Kannur and the Chandragiri river in Kasaragod.

Repositories of biodiversity, kavus have been facing threat owing to large-scale conversion of land.

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