State moots World Heritage Site status for Western Ghats

: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said the State government had sent a proposal to the International Union for Conservation of Nature for recognising the Western Ghats region as a ‘World Heritage Site.'

Inaugurating a national workshop on ‘Advancing Frontiers of Amphibian Conservation,' organised by the University of Delhi in association with the Kerala Forest Department here on Monday, he said the government was hopeful of a favourable decision in this regard in view of the rich biodiversity of the region. There are a large number of rare, endangered and endemic species in the region and the government will continue to accord highest priority to conservation of its forests and biodiversity, he added.

Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar, who presided over the inaugural function, said the government would work to strengthen the involvement of scientists, mediapersons and environmentalists in matters relating to conservation of environment and forests.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Delhi Dinesh Singh, in his keynote address, stressed the need for the universities in the country redefining their role in such a way as to link their research activities to the changing requirements of the country. He said the Lost Amphibians of India initiative of his university, launched with the target of rediscovering nearly 50 species of amphibians feared to be extinct in the country and proposing a comprehensive strategy for conserving the amphibian diversity, was one such model.

Prof. Dinesh Singh assured top officials of the Forest Departments of the Western Ghats States, who were among the delegates at the workshop, that his university would welcome new initiatives of the State governments for utilising the university's talent and research resources for furthering the cause of conservation.

The workshop featured presentations on the scale of species extinction among amphibians at the global level (by Don R. Church, Director of Global Wildlife Conservation), the status of amphibian research in the country (by S.D. Biju of the University of Delhi), the role being played by the media in protecting the nature (by Bahar Dutt, Environment Editor of CNN/IBN), besides a video session on conservation (by Shekar Dattatri). Head of the State Forest Department T.M. Manoharan welcomed the delegates in the inaugural session.

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