Marking of forest boundaries to begin shortly

The identification of boundaries of all the 26 protected forests of Kerala will begin shortly to earmark the Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZ) around them.

The Kerala State Remote Sensing and Environment Centre will prepare boundary maps in 1:5000 scale, which will help in precisely marking the boundaries. The Forest Department and the Centre will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the purpose.

The steps come as part of efforts to implement the Supreme Court directive to identify a minimum ESZ of 1 km for all the protected forests.

Incidentally, the court order had triggered protests in different parts of the State with both the ruling LDF and the Opposition UDF calling for hartals fearing that the marking of ESZ may hit the populations living close to the protected areas.

Structures to be marked

Once the boundaries are fixed, all the structures in the 1-km periphery, including buildings, engineering structures like dams, check dams, culverts and canals, and the land use patterns will be marked, said S. Jane Mithra, scientist in charge of the project.

Random field inspections will be required in the western side of the protected forests of the State where there are human habitations. The eastern side is mostly interstate forest boundaries, where the marking of the ESZ will leave no impact, said Dr. Mithra.

The State government needs the documentation for arguing its case of marking zero ESZ in as many as 10 protected areas.

‘Default norm is 10 km’

Meanwhile, senior Forest officials felt that the court order fixing the lower limit of the ESZ to 1 km had come as a blessing to the State as the default norm is 10 km.

The ESZ of Mathikettan Shola National Park, which was approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change before the Supreme Court order, is 10 km. It would have been the case of all the protected areas if the apex court order came a few months late, felt Bennichen Thomas, Head of Forest Force.

No new restrictions

Barring the setting up of quarries, no new restrictions have been proposed by the top court. The court order will in no way affect the life and livelihood of those living in the ESZ, noted Mr. Thomas who felt the fears expressed by those opposing the court directive were unfounded.

The ESZ of most of the protected areas including Parambikulam, Iravikulam, Peppara-Neyyar are interstate forest boundaries. However, ESZ of Peechi-Vazhani wildlife sanctuary and Thattekkad and Mangalavanam bird sanctuaries are spread over human habitations, he pointed out.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2022 4:15:53 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/marking-of-forest-boundaries-to-begin-shortly/article65520624.ece