Colonisers ruined Western Ghats, says study

MANGALURU: If the continue to get deteriorated, it is because of erstwhile colonisers, who misperceived as , points out a research study.

A study by (MAHE), National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, and University of Leeds, UK, has thrown light on how bio-diversity hotspot Western Ghats were destroyed by planting vast tracts of grasslands with trees for firewood and timber, putting over 150 local flora and fauna species in danger. The study by , and Jayashree Ratnam published recently in a leading journal shows how it led to natural tropical grasslands transform into exotic tree plantations.

How it started?

It all started in 1820s, when Sullivan, the collector of the Coimbatore district in the ,was mesmerised with the montane landscapes of the Nilgiris, and he recommended that the Madras government develop these areas as a sanitorium for injured British soldiers. It began by building roads and a few houses on the with government grants, and other British officials soon followed suit and built a few more houses. Before the British arrived, the Nilgiri plateau was sparsely populated by indigenous communities and due to their distinct use of resources, were living harmoniously with each other.

The Nilgiris harbours one of the largest areas of shola-grassland mosaics in the Western Ghats.

More problems were caused for the Western Ghats when European settlements increased, and the demand for firewood, lead to largescale felling of shola forests around the new colonial settlements

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