The Western Ghats: biodiversity versus development
Source: Sci Dev Net, Date: April , 2014
India is currently
debating the case for development in the Western Ghats, one of the world’s
so-called ‘hottest biodiversity hotspots’. Over 4,000 flowering plants, more
than 500 bird species, over 100 species of mammals and around 180 species of
amphibians call the mountains their home.
But the Western Ghats
is not a typical protected area. Areas of largely forested wilderness mesh with
areas of human settlement with few detectable boundaries. Wild animals,
including large and potentially dangerous predatory cats, roam villages on the
forest fringes. They damage crops and livestock, creating conflict between
endangered animals and affected people, mostly poor villagers.
Local people, who
live at high densities just outside the protected areas, depend on the forests
for survival. Forested areas also hold mining wealth and timber that companies
and government agencies are keen to utilise, as well as water resources that
could support intensive farming. India faces a tough task in trying to resolve
these conflicts and maintain her forests.is mountainous area their home.