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Biodiversity & Environment

National Award for Excellence in Forestry

  • 20 Jul 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

  • The National Award of Excellence for Outstanding Research in Forestry for the year 2019 has been awarded to Kannan C S Warrier, a scientist at Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB).
  • This award is conferred by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE).
    • ICFRE is an apex body in the national forestry research system. ICFRE was recently declared as the Centre for Excellence in addressing issues related to land degradation by the Prime Minister.

Key Points

  • The award has been awarded to Kannan C S Warrier for releasing three salt-tolerant productive clones of Casuarina that are suitable for salt-affected soils, for the first time in the country.
  • India has 6.73 million hectares of salt affected land and is also the largest producer of Casuarina in the world which makes the production of these clones a significant achievement.

Casuarina

  • Casuarina, also known as kattadi and savukku, is a plant genus with over 17 species with Casuarina equisetifolia being introduced in India in the 19th century.
  • They have a role in nitrogen fixation in symbiotic association with bacteria Frankia.
  • They provide fuel wood, pulp for paper making and of late is a preferred choice for biomass-based power generation.
  • They are also used at construction sites for scaffolding.
  • They are used as shelterbelts in coastal areas and windbreaks for protecting agricultural crops and banana plantations.
  • They also play a key role in reclaiming mined areas and afforesting nutrient-poor sites.
  • Warrier has also done extensive work on the conservation of endangered sacred groves in Alappuzha district of Kerala.

Sacred Groves

  • Sacred groves are communally protected forests which usually have a significant religious connotation for the protecting community.
  • In India, there are over a lakh sacred groves across different states called by different names like Kaavu in Malayalam, Koyil kaadu in Tamil, Orans in Rajasthan, Devara kaadu in Karnataka, and Sernas in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Many rare and endemic species, and species having medicinal and economic value can be found here, thus making them Biodiversity Hotspots. They house gene pools of some critically endangered plant species.
  • They are often associated with religious beliefs and felling of trees in sacred groves is considered taboo.
  • Sacred groves have been legally protected under ‘community reserves’ in the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002.
  • Some common threats to Sacred Groves are:
    • Disappearance of the traditional belief systems, which were fundamental to the concept of sacred groves.
    • The transformation of the primitive forms of nature worship into formal temple worship.
    • Rapid urbanization and developmental interventions such as roads, railways tracks, dams including commercial forestry.
    • Invasion by exotic weeds.
    • Pressures due to increasing livestock and fuelwood collection.

Source: TOI

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