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The Cochin Natural History Society is a non-profit making, non-political charitable institution registered under the Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955. This is a society of amateur naturalists who live in harmony with nature and seek to protect and to preserve the biodiversity and healthy natural environment. The mandate of the society is to undertake studies and documentation of biodiversity around us and to draw attention to the aesthetic, economic, scientific and conservation aspects.The society also intends to provide a platform to those who are concerned to come together and share, enlarge and correct our knowledge about Nature and its magnificence. Any person, who has a love, interest and commitment towards conservation of our biodiversity and natural history may become a member of the society*.

"You can know the names of a bird in all languages of the world,but when you are finished ,
You will know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird.....
So let`s look at the bird and see what it`s doing --that`s what counts.
I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."

-Nobel Laureate Richard P Feynman(1918-1988)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mechanism of proposed Western Ghats serial sites to be enhanced

The proposed Western Ghats Natural Heritage Conservation Authority
(WGNHCA) will likely strengthen the management of the serial sites
nominated for the Unesco's World Heritage List.

The country has been campaigning for the status for 39 sites of the
Ghats and the Paris session of the World Heritage Committee that began
on Sunday will decide on the list.

Earlier, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN),
which assessed the sites, had observed that “there was no overarching
management plan for the nominated property.”

Responding to the criticism, the Ministry of Environment and Forests
said the sites had comprehensive management plans and were being
scientifically managed under a policy and legal framework.

“The serial properties are spread across Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil
Nadu, and Maharashtra and cannot be effectively managed under a single
or overarching management plan. Instead, the required synergy and
coordination for effective management would be provided by the already
existing Western Ghats Natural Heritage Management Authority.

The management activities will be further strengthened by the proposed
WGNHCA,” according to a document to be submitted to the Unesco.

Synergy, coordination

It was also communicated that the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel,
headed by eminent ecologist Madhav Gadgil, and the Western Ghats
Natural Heritage Committee, were established by an executive order and
an appropriate synergy and coordination existed between the two.

The Ministry said: “The nominated property duly meets the integrity,
protection, and management requirements as set out in the operational
guidelines of the [World Heritage Commission].” The boundaries of the
sites, it said, were well-demarcated both on the ground as well as on
the spatial database in the Geographic Information System domain.

A decision on the nomination was expected on June 24, said V.B.
Mathur, dean of the Wildlife Institute of India, who had been
coordinating the nomination process for the Ghats region.

Highlighting the eligibility of the Ghats for nomination, the document
prepared by the Ministry said the IUCN had highly commended India for
its ongoing commitment to ensure a comprehensive approach to
conserving the globally recognised high biodiversity value of the
Ghats, noting the scale and complexity of the area.”

The technical evaluation team of the IUCN had reported on the species
richness and diversity of the Ghats. The whole region included some
5,000 vascular plant species, 228 freshwater fish, 179 amphibians, 157
reptiles, 508 birds, and 139 mammals. A large number of them were
endemic too.

“The property is key to the conservation of a number of threatened
habitats, such as wildflower meadows, shola forests, and Myristica
swamps,” according to the document.

“The sites fall under a number of protection regimes, ranging from
tiger reserves, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and reserved
forests. All these components are owned by the State and subject to
stringent protection under laws, including the Wildlife Protection
Act, the National Wildlife Action Plan, and the Forest Conservation

The sites belong to the same bio-geographic province and remain as
isolated remnants of previously continuous forest. The Ghats also
represents two Global 200 priority eco-regions not represented in the
World Heritage List.

K.S. Sudhi

The report published in The Hindu dated 20-6-2011

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