The Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) has submitted a proposal to the State government to declare the mangroves in Kalassamala in Thrissur and Ashramom in Kollam district as Biodiversity Heritage sites.
Both the locations are home to Syzygium travancoricum, a tree endemic to Kerala that was brought out of the ‘critically endangered’ category in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) following field studies by the Kerala Forest Research Institute.
A press note quoting KSBB member secretary Dr K.P. Laladhas said the board had been awaiting a government notification to draw up a management plan for the species.
It said the plan for five to 10 years would be based on suggestions from local stakeholders.
The Board was of the opinion that the status of the species should continue to be critically endangered, it added.
In isolated patches
“The species occurs in isolated patches mostly in myristica swamp forests and its total population is reported to be less than 200,” Dr Laladhas said.
“It is habitat-specific with poor natural regeneration capacity and seed viability. The swampy wetland habitat in which it is commonly found has been widely drained and converted into paddy fields and is the major threat faced by the species.”
A study, which has been conducted by the KSBB, has revealed that the sacred grove of the Siva temple at Kalassamala is home to 110 Syzygium travancoricum (Kulavetti) trees of girth between 50- 60 cm, with the biggest tree about 250 cm.
At the Ashramom mangroves, there were 13 trees that were more than 100 years old.
“Seedlings or saplings of the trees are rarely seen in the habitats, indicating absence of regeneration. The tree population has declined considerably because of over-exploitation, habitat degradation, and absence of natural regeneration,” Dr Laladhas said.