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Loss of Evergreen Forest : Western Ghats

Context: Western Ghats has experienced a 5% loss in evergreen forest cover, with an increase in built-up and agriculture areas,....

Context: Western Ghats has experienced a 5% loss in evergreen forest cover, with an increase in built-up and agriculture areas, according to a spatiotemporal (belonging to both space and time or to space–time) analysis of land use.

Key findings:
  • The interior forests comprise only 25% of the forest landmass, indicating the pressure of fragmentation and its impact on local ecology.
  • The region witnessed large-scale land cover changes during the past century due to unplanned developmental activities with industrialisation and globalisation.
  • Highlights high ecological fragility in the area.

The findings highlight the necessity of implementing conservation measures and sustainable development policies in the Western Ghats to address the threats to forests and water security in the region.

What is Ecological fragility?

Fragility and stability of an ecosystem relate to degree of change in species abundance and composition, following disturbance. High rates of species turnover or population fluctuations characterize fragile ecosystems, and vice versa. 

For example, deforestation in a rainforest can disrupt the intricate web of species interactions, causing species extinction and the loss of vital ecological functions such as carbon sequestration and water regulation.

Threats to Western Ghats

  • Developmental Pressures: Urbanisation together with agricultural expansion and livestock grazing are posing serious threats to the region.
    • About 50 million people are estimated to live in the Western Ghats Region, resulting in developmental pressures that are orders of magnitude greater than many protected areas around the world.
  • Biodiversity Relates Issues: Forest loss, habitat fragmentation, habitat degradation by invasive plant species, encroachment and conversion also continue to affect the Ghats.
    • Fragmentation caused by development pressure in the Western Ghats is shrinking the availability of wildlife corridors and suitable habitats outside Protected Areas.
  • Climate Change: In the intermediate years, the climate crisis has gained momentum:
    • Landslides and flash floods ravaged the ghat areas of Konkan in 2021
    • Cyclones are also gaining intensity with the warming of the Arabian Sea leaving the west coast especially vulnerable.
  • Threats from Industrialisation: More polluting industries, quarries and mines, roads, and townships are likely to be planned due to the absence of the Western Ghats ESA policy.
    • This implies more damage to the fragile landscape of the region in future.

About the analysis: 

The Indian Institute of Science’s Energy and Wetlands Research Group launched the Western Ghats Spatial Decision Support System (WGSDSS) to enhance governance transparency and aid in the management of the ecologically vital Sahyadri hill ranges. The system provides comprehensive information on ecological, socio-economic, biodiversity, and environmental aspects, supporting effective decision-making.

FAQs Related with Loss of Evergreen Forest in Western Ghats
Ques 1: What is the extent of the loss of evergreen forests in the Western Ghats?

Answer: Evergreen forests in the Western Ghats have significantly declined due to deforestation, land conversion, infrastructure development, and illegal logging.

Ques 2: What are the consequences of the loss of evergreen forests in the Western Ghats?

Answer: Loss of evergreen forests in the Western Ghats results in habitat destruction, soil erosion, altered rainfall patterns, and reduced biodiversity.

Ques 3: What measures are being taken to address the loss of evergreen forests in the Western Ghats?

Answer: Conservation initiatives aim to restore evergreen forests through protected areas, regulations, sustainable practices, and community involvement.

Read Also : National Green Tribunal (NGT): Need Of Revival

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