Buffer zone | A participatory mapping exercise

Kerala Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine addresses a buffer zone review meeting at the Idukki Collectorate on January 3, 2023. Photo: Special Arrangement

Kerala Water Assets Minister Roshy Augustine addresses a buffer zone overview assembly on the Idukki Collectorate on January 3, 2023. Picture: Particular Association

The demarcation of a 1-km buffer zone across the protected forests in Kerala on the course of the Supreme Court docket has raised critical issues in society. Whereas the creation and upkeep of buffer zone round ecologically delicate areas are thought-about important, the train is commonly beset by a paucity of dependable ground-level knowledge. In its particular report on Local weather Change and Land- Abstract for Coverage Makers (2019), the Worldwide Panel for Local weather Change (IPCC) confused on bettering sustainable land administration ‘by growing the provision and accessibility of knowledge’ and termed it one of many near-term actions to deal with the problem of local weather change and adaptation. Nonetheless, micro-level land use statistics in Kerala, or for that matter of your entire nation, is usually conjectural with marginal floor enter.

In accordance with official statistics, Kerala has 11,525 km2, or 29.7% of its complete geographical space beneath forest cowl. The class of dense and degraded forest accounts for 78.7% of the whole forest space. The remainder of the realm is allotted for forest plantations, leased to different division or used to accommodate different non-forest actions. Protected forests cowl 26.6% of the whole forest space and a 1-km buffer zone is proposed round these protected forest areas. Because of the dominance of tree crops and plantations like rubber, there are technical limitations in isolating pure forest vegetation utilizing satellite tv for pc photos at a finer scale. That is evident from the report of the Forest Survey of India (2021), based on which Kerala has 21,253km2 or 54.7% of the whole space beneath forest. The distinction in figures has arisen due to the inclusion of plantations.

The mismatch between the realm beneath forest and the realm beneath precise pure vegetation cowl was highlighted within the early Eighties when the Centre for Earth Science Research introduced out a report on deforestation in Kerala. Forest areas are getting used for numerous non-forestry functions, together with the enlargement of human settlements, resulting in the fragmentation of forest patches. The forest-settlement boundary is pushed deep into the Western Ghats, exposing trails of wildlife motion, and aggravating human-wildlife conflicts. In 2021, there have been cases of 8,107 human-wildlife conflicts.

Fixing the boundary between pure forest vegetation and humanised panorama is critical. It warrants an in depth land use survey on a cadastral scale on the plot stage. Participation of native individuals is crucial. Such an train was first tried within the U.Ok. the place college students supplied the majority of the manpower. The whole nation was lined by way of plot level-land use survey from 1928 to 1932 beneath the management of Sir Dudley Stamp of Division of Geography, London Faculty of Economics. This survey vastly improved the land use statistics of U.Ok. The identical train was repeated within the Nineteen Sixties.

Kerala experimented with plot-level land use documentation in 1975. Nonetheless, being a departmental train, the info weren’t assimilated to the specified stage.

In 1991, the Centre for Earth Science Research, in collaboration with the Kerala State Land Use Board, and the Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad launched participatory panchayat useful resource mapping within the State. The programme envisaged land use and asset mapping on a cadastral scale by educated native volunteers. Topic consultants had been concerned in mapping land and water sources and assimilating the info by way of environmental appraisal. All of the panchayats within the State had been lined.

Particular necessities

Within the current context of buffer zone mapping, the requirement is restricted. Land use and asset survey are essential for 115 panchayats bordering the protected forests. It isn’t doable for the federal government division to finish the duty in an inexpensive time-frame. Drawing from previous experiences, native panchayat and residents could be mobilised to undertake the programme. College students from faculties and faculties, together with lecturers could be concerned. Scientific institutes and departments could also be mandated to increase technical help. The whole database shall be on a digital platform and be made out there to the general public. This might maybe assist in a giant method in resolving conflicts. Related workout routines shall be required to protect the ecosystem. The possession of the maps and native motion should relaxation with the native inhabitants.

The creator is a (Retd) Scientist, Centre for Earth Science Research, Thiruvananthapuram


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