KOCHI: Five sacred groves in Ernakulam district have been short-listed for conservation support. The Social Forestry wing of the State Forest Department had drawn up a plan for supporting sacred groves of biodiversity significance in the State. Under the project, two groves each from a district would get support.
Iringole kavu, near Perumbavoor, owned by the Travancore Devaswom Board, is there in the list. The kavu (sacred grove), which is spread over 50 acre, is considered the biggest in the district. The kavus owned by Aruvikkal Durga Devi Temple, Maradi (2.5 acre), Pennakudam Bhagavathy Temple, Thrikkakara (1.5 acre), Chittethukavu and the Sarppakavu owned by Thottam Illam, Nellikuzhi, are also there in the district list. The sacred groves were selected based on its extent and biodiversity value.
The final selection will be done by a State-level expert committee, officials of the Social Forestry wing said.
Sacred groves do not come under the control of the Forest Department. They are mostly owned by individuals and temple trusts. Hence, a status report on the sacred groves of Kerala is not available with the authorities. The private ownership of the groves has also prevented the department from assessing the biodiversity significance of these groves.
According to experts, the groves house rich biodiversity and need to be conserved. Most of the sacred groves are also attached to temples.
The present attempt is to help owners of the groves to conserve them while retaining their ownership.