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Tropical gene pool garden being improved

Pioneering attempt: A part of the gene pool at Nadugani, near Gudalur.

Pioneering attempt: A part of the gene pool at Nadugani, near Gudalur.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Special arrangement

D. Radhakrishnan

Udhagamandalam: The Tropical Gene Pool Garden at Nadugani near Gudalur, which has been in a state of neglect for many years, is now in the process of being improved thanks to the forest department and the Hill Area Development Programme (HADP).

District Forest Officer, Gudalur division, N. Satheesh, told The Hindu that a sum of Rs. 10 lakh had been sanctioned under the HADP to set right various features of the conservation-cum-research centre during the current fiscal.

The facility had come into being many years ago to preserve and propagate rare and endangered indigenous plant species. Billed as a unique and pioneering attempt in the country it was claimed that it was the second of its kind in the world, the first being part of the famed Kew Garden in London.

Established over 242.14 hectares, it was divided into 11 planting zones. While nearly 47,000 seedlings belonging to 121 native species, including Garcinia indica (Kodampuli), Machillus macrantha (Kulirma),Calophyllum elatum (Punnai) and Cinnamonum zeylanicum (Elavangam pattai) were planted in the zone declared as an arboretum, in the medicinal plants zone species like Gymnema sylvestyre,Vitex negundo and Puthranjeeva roxburgii (endangered) were planted.

Conservation

Whereas in the non-wood produce zone trees like Bixa ovellana and Terminalia codappa were planted, the Canes and Reeds zone had species like Calamus travancoricus. In addition the garden had a centre for collection and conservation of endangered species, an orchidarium, a fern house, a green house for raising plants which required special care, a tissue culture laboratory, a mist chamber and a thermostatically controlled glass house. Regrettably, owing to various factors the objectives of the garden are yet to be achieved. Stating that a plan of action had been drawn to make optimum use of the facilities in the garden, Mr. Satheesh said the focus would be on improving the tissue culture laboratory. It would become a full-fledged research centre.

Since wild elephants often strayed into the garden a solar fence would be erected around the administrative zone. It would in no way affect the elephant corridor. In course of time the garden would become a major eco education-cum-eco tourism destination, he said.

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