Avalanche, one of the Nilgiris’ last pristine Shola ecosystems, decimated by landslips

Forest Department to assess the extent of forest cover lost due to the calamity

One of the most pristine Shola ecosystems in the Nilgiris, Avalanche has been decimated by rains and landslips.

According to Forest Department officials and local conservationists, the unprecedented rains, floods and landslips have destroyed many acres of native forests, bringing down hundreds, maybe even thousands, of trees.

D. Guruswamy, District Forest Officer, Nilgiris Division, told The Hindu that according to his evaluation, around 10 major landslips occurred around Avalanche, home to some of the last remaining untouched Shola ecosystems in the Nilgiris, outside the Mukurthi National Park.

The landslips have destroyed many Shola trees that form a vast unbroken canopy along the slopes that are iconic to the area, while landslips have also occurred in a patch of forest known as the ‘Cauliflower Shola,’ a vast unbroken patch of Shola forest known to be rich in biodiversity.

Restoration ecologist Godwin Vasanth Bosco said that the area was home to many rare species of flora, including the threatened Elaeocarpus recurvatus, Ixora notoniana and Hydnocarpus alpina, and said that an assessment needed to be undertaken to identify the number and the species of trees destroyed over the last couple of weeks. He said the damage to the forests in Avalanche would last for hundreds of years, as the trees that populated the region were extremely slow-growing.

Officials said that many species of small wildlife, including birds, squirrels and wild boar had also died after being caught in the landslips.

They said that an assessment would be done to arrive at the exact amount of forest cover lost.

The District Forest Officer said that many streams and water bodies had also been choked with debris and rubble. The Forest Department would begin overseeing the natural rejuvenation of the affected areas by periodic removal of any exotic flora or invasive weeds that take root.

The area, which is a popular tourist spot, has been closed due to the damage, with officials estimating that it will be many months till it is safe for tourism.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 6:27:31 AM |

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