Sans human intervention, flowers of Kaas plateau bloom in the bosom of nature
Pune-based botanist Kanchanmala Gandhe said that the virus situation has had a positive impact on conservation of rarest of rare species in the region and would lead to revival of nature at the biodiversity hotspot.Updated: Sep 06, 2020, 16:21 IST
Kaas Plateau Reserve Forest, locally known as “Kaas Pathar” (plateau of flowers), may have turned into a sea of blooming flowers in the absence of human intervention because of the Covid lockdown restrictions, according to botanists and environmentalists.
Pune-based botanist Kanchanmala Gandhe said that the virus situation has had a positive impact on conservation of rarest of rare species in the region and would lead to revival of nature at the biodiversity hotspot.
Kaas, located 140 km from Pune in Satara district in western Maharashtra region and home to varieties of flowers, is a world heritage site declared by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The reserve forest is still out of bounds for visitors as the district administration and the forest department are yet to a take a decision on permitting tourists in the area. Tourists, nature lovers and students visit the plateau during the flower blooming season from August to October. Authorities imposed many measures to protect the nature spot after it became a part of a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 2012.
Ecologist Madhav Gadgil, who headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel formed in 2010, said, “Commercial developments in the form of hotel constructions and ecotourism affected the rich biodiversity of Kaas plateau. There has been a huge rush of people to this sensitive area in the guise of ecotourism and it has triggered commercial activities in the Western Ghats, followed by construction activities like hotels and other infrastructure which has defeated the purpose of protecting the green cover and habitat protection of the plateau.”
Gadgil said that there is a need to strengthen acts like Biological Diversity Act of 2002, which empowers local bodies like panchayats to take appropriate steps for conservation. The participation of locals comprising Adivasis and forest dwellers is of crucial importance in carrying out sustainable development in the area.
“Currently, the government has taken control over the area and Adivasis and locals, the original stakeholders, have been left out in the sustainable development process,” he said.
Gandhe said, “The colour of the plateau changes with season as many flowers, including rare wildflowers, bloom throughout the year. It is natural that the bloom will last for longer period this year because of the Covid restrictions and one can look forward to more varieties of flora in the coming season. Nature comes to its original state if there is no disturbance. The plants will flower with full bloom this time and next year too. Pink balsams, blue utricularies and yellow smithias are in full bloom during monsoons. Kumudini (lotus flower) blossom during October and November.”
“As the number of Covid-19 cases in Satara and its surrounding villages is on the rise, giving permission to visitors to visit Kaas is not in public interest. The authorities have not taken any decision on allowing visitors to the plateau,” S Pardeshi, range forest officer, Kaas Pathar, Satara.