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Preserving Longwood, the Nilgiris’ solely city Shola forest

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The Nilgiris’ solely “city Shola forest” — the Longwood Shola in Kotagiri — might turn out to be one of the crucial essential wild areas within the State, because the Tamil Nadu authorities and the Forest Division plan an eco-tourism initiative to unfold consciousness of the significance of the Nilgiris’ Shola forests to the general public on the web site.

The forest, which lies on the coronary heart of Kotagiri city, is thought to be a biodiversity hotspot. It’s a fashionable spot for bird-watchers to catch glimpses of among the rarest birds of the Western Ghats.

“The Longwood Shola is a primeval tract of forest inside the city of Kotagiri. It’s unfold over 116 hectares, together with a number of hills to the east. The Longwood Shola is a comparatively small patch of forest, but of nice significance to all the Kotagiri area. It’s a main supply of water to the close by villages and hamlets and performs an important function in Kotagiri’s micro local weather, attracting and regulating the rainfall,” stated Shiny Mariam Rehel, programme coordinator at Keystone Basis.

The patch of forest has an extended historical past. It was saved from complete destruction by a British colonist, Baylin Brook, who lived in a bungalow nestled within the forest between 1905 and 1940, in line with Ok.R. Raju, coordinator of the Longwood Shola Watchdog Committee. The committee has been combating to protect and restore the patch to a extra pristine state, freed from unique species, for over 20 years.

“Whereas Brook prevented folks from slicing down the forest for its firewood, he additionally minimised poaching and ensured its survival. Solely a lot later was the world declared a reserve forest, with protections coming into place. Nonetheless, it nonetheless faces a number of threats, the gravest being the unfold of unique species of flora, very similar to in different elements of the Nilgiris,” stated Mr. Raju.

Native communities have benefited massively from efforts to preserve the world, he added. The Shola, by way of which three streams circulate, are an essential supply of ingesting water to round 18 hamlets round Kotagiri.

The forests are identified to harbour a wide range of flora, most of that are endemic to the Western Ghats. “This forest harbours many species of shrubs, ferns, fungi, reeds and creepers. The Longwood Shola supplies shelter to different fauna, particularly birds such because the Nilgiri laughing thrush, babblers, flycatchers, woodpeckers and warblers. Additionally it is residence to the Indian Large Squirrel, the barking deer, wild boar, porcupines, hares, mouse deer and the Indian gaur,” added Sumin George Thomas, senior programme coordinator at Keystone Basis.

In accordance with research carried out by the Forest Division, the world is believed to be residence to round 13 species of mammals, together with the “susceptible” Nilgiri marten, leopards, 52 species of birds, a lot of that are endemic to the Western Ghats, 44 several types of tree species, 32 styles of shrubs, 25 species of lianas and climbers, epiphytes and no less than 12 species of ferns.

Bhosale Sachin Thukkaram, District Forest Officer (Nilgiris Division), stated the Longwood Shola is the Nilgiris’ solely “city Shola forest” which is definitely accessible to the general public. The State authorities has introduced plans to start eco-tourism aimed toward educating the general public on the Shola forests of the Nilgiris. Mr. Thukkaram stated it was hoped that by selling sustainable, eco-tourism on this space the intricate steadiness between the Shola forests and the native landscapes may very well be defined in nice element to the general public. Funds generated by way of the eco-tourism actions may very well be used to make sure the safety of the world, in addition to different forests within the division.

A Shola conservation centre is to be arrange, as a part of the eco-tourism plans, which might be a repository of details about the assorted Shola species and their significance to native communities, stated Extra Chief Secretary (Setting, Local weather Change and Forests) Supriya Sahu.

The federal government had additionally utilized to incorporate the Longwood Shola within the Queen’s Commonwealth Cover that may assist the federal government and the Forest Division share with different nations one of the best conservation practices that may be adopted to guard the world. “We hope that when arrange, the conservation centre would assist vacationers, researchers and bird-watchers achieve a greater understanding of the forest, which they will take residence after their go to,” added Ms. Sahu.

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