An eco-development project to restore the grasslands at Pazhathottam inside the Anamudi Shola National Park has proved a success.
Forest Department officials said that three years ago over 50 hectares of forestland here was gutted in a fire. It was then decided to grow endemic grass, instead of the exotic plants that had conquered the area. The grass quickly spread across the area. The success of the project, implemented through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), inspired the officials and they decided to expand it to more areas in the forest.
Pampadum Shola National Park assistant wildlife warden Arun B. Nair said that when the endemic grass was grown in the hill tract, it witnessed more sightings of wild animals, including deer and wild gaur. A natural stream too could be revived, which could ensure water availability to Chilantiyar, downstream of Pazhathottam.
He said that the eco-restoration project would be completed in 2023.
Seeds from forest
Seeds of the grass for sowing were collected from the forest. It is hoped that when the local plants replace the exotic variants, even carnivorous animals would return, thereby helping preserve an endangered habitat.
The project is being implemented with the participation of local tribespeople. The department has formed an eco-development committee (EDC), Haritha Vasantham, for the project. Wages are paid to the families supporting the project.