• Protection of places that are located outside the Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is very critical for the protection of the Western Ghats.
  • Such places constitute close to 90% of the Western Ghats, conservation strategy for which was not addressed in the reports of both the High Level Working Group on Western Ghats (Kasturirangan Committee Report) and Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (Gadgil Commission)
  • Around 10 % to 20 % of places in the Western Ghats are covered in ESA.
  • The remaining places outside the ESA are spread across individual holdings in the forms of farms and estates.
  • No study has been done to find what individuals and farmers living in these places are doing to the environment.
  • Micro-level understanding of their role is very critical in protecting the Western Ghats.
  • These are the main issues SWGM is trying to address
  • The latest notification by the MoEF had marked 56,825 sq.km. in the Western Ghats as Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) as per the recommendations of the High Level Working Group
  • The largest biodiversity spots he had witnessed outside the protected areas were in sacred groves, numbers of which have decreased drastically over the years.
  • Some of the best sacred groves in the country are situated in Kerala, known as ‘Kaavu’ and around 2,000 of them are still remaining.
  • Similar types of sacred groves are seen in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  • Apart from protecting some of the endangered species, several new species were discovered in sacred groves.
  • All together, they constitute 4% of biodiversity outside the forests.