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Conservation swap restores corridor in a biodiversity hotspot

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 October 2012

Prerna Singh Bindra
Affiliation:
Wildlife Conservation Society—India Program, Centre for Wildlife Studies, 1669, 31st Cross, 16th Main, Banashankari 2nd Stage, Bengalooru-560 070, India
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Abstract

Type
Conservation News
Copyright
Copyright © Fauna & Flora International 2012

Kudremukh National Park in Karnataka State, India, forms the largest block of biodiversity-rich tropical rainforests in the Western Ghats, recognized as one of the 38 global Biodiversity Hotspots. However, the presence of an iron-ore mine established in 1977 has meant that a 25 km high-tension power line cut across the heart of the park, fragmenting and disrupting several threatened species, including the largest population of lion-tailed macaques in the wild. Forced to close down recently following litigation by conservation groups, the now defunct mine still remained linked by the massive power line. However, a significant conservation victory was recently achieved when this corridor was restored by a unique conservation swap mandated by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Indian Government.

In early 2010 the government of Karnataka State sought FAC's mandatory approval for another high-tension power line to take power from a newly constructed thermal power plant. Because the proposed power line cut through 8.3 km of evergreen forest corridor south of Kudremukh National Park, FAC mandated field inspection by Wildlife Conservation Society scientist K. Ullas Karanth and Former Dean, Wildlife Institute of India, A.J.T. Johnsingh. Based on the analysis provided by Karanth and Johnsingh FAC permitted the new power line conditional on compensatory dismantling of the existing 25 km power transmission line in Kudremukh, thereby restoring the lost corridor within the Park. This dismantling of a major power line, from a conservation swap, is the first of its kind in India. It is expected to be a precedent-setting conservation model as India tries to reconcile the twin social goals of preserving nature and achieving economic growth, both essential for the welfare of its 1.2 billion people.

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