Over 1,100 sacred groves in Kozhikode

A Kaavu in Kozhikode. Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup

A Kaavu in Kozhikode. Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup

A taluk-wise enumeration of sacred groves ( Kaavu ) undertaken by the Institution of Foresters of Kerala, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), as part of a Statewide documentation undertaken for the Department of Forest and Wildlife, has found more than 1,100 sacred groves in the district.

This is the largest number among three districts, including Thiruvananthapuram (480), where documentation has been completed, organisation sources said.

In the district, Kozhikode taluk has the largest number of sacred groves, 686, while the Vadakara has the least, 114. Koyilandy taluk has as many as 377 of them. All of them are of different sizes and character, protected by their private owners, Murali Mampatta, Kozhikode chapter president of the Thiruvananthapuram-based NGO, said.

“The number of Kaavus from the district has exceeded all our expectations,” Mr. Murali, who is a retired DFO, said.

The enumeration by a seven-member team, mostly retired forest officials with a passion for conservation, began in the district in January last year and was completed recently. “The exercise was solely meant to shape a comprehensive conservation project for sacred groves in the State with the help and support of their owners,” Mr. Murali said.

The team members painstakingly took the count of the sacred groves in a prescribed format, documenting all the possible details available about them. These include total area, geographical position, festivals and pujas associated with them, flora and fauna, presence of waterbodies, if any, and ownership details.

Some of the Kaavus, Mr. Murali said, were unique in their biodiversity while some others featured rare collection of flora. A 2.5-acre Kaavu near Pantheeramkavu had a rare collection of over 300 Kambakam trees ( Hopea parviflora ) in it. “This is one of the hardest trees, and was used to make sleepers for railway tracks in the past,” he said.

The State and the Union governments, Mr. Murali said, had different funding agencies to ensure the protection of the ecologically important sacred groves. “Fairness in the distribution of such funds can be ensured only if we have a proper databank comprising comprehensive details of all the sacred groves in the State,” he said.

The enumeration and documentation process was apace in the remaining districts, he said.

Private owners or trust members who would like to enlist their Kaavus in the databank for financial assistance from the State may call 9447219064.

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Printable version | Aug 15, 2022 4:15:22 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/over-1100-sacred-groves-in-kozhikode/article7111767.ece