| Aug 15, 2018
Why do we need to save giant trees ?
Giant trees of Bandipur-map1
This is the question we expect and are prepared to face from different audiences whether they are funding agencies , academics or general public.
The idea of planting saplings have caught up world wide as an important measure to combat climat change, conserve soil moisture and arrest soil run off etc. But these steps will hardly make us understand how diverse tropical forests come into being. In other words, with all our efforts and will we might not be able to create a forest that comes even slightly close to a tropical forest. For that to happen, we need to understand the role large or giant tropical trees play in regeneration of many plants and shrubs.This in turn leads to creation of diverse tropical forest ecosystem- a natural wonder!
AERF field team did a researchin the last quarter on diversity of undergrowth of a few giant trees which are now marked for conservation in the Ratnagiri district during the monsoon season. The findings of this very short study are astonishing. A single large tree of Terminalia bellirica or Ficus religiosa supports regeneration of minimum 25 different plant species under its canopy. Out of which about 50% of the saplings have been germinated from droppings of birds. In addition, number of saplings of these trees themselves can range between anywhere from 150 to 500. The giant trees in this sense are a small sanctuary of plants and reflection of what kind of trees can be seen in the surrounding forest. We are learning more about these giants and totally convinced now that by saving one giant trees ,we are supporting existence of small diverse plant and animal kingdom. The research also highlighted one important fact that most of these giant trees have survived due to their cultural significance! Thus conservation of culture and tradition will play a big role in conservation of biodiversity in this region.
In addition to this study, field team of our partner organization, Junglescape, extended the work of giant tree survey in buffer zone of Bandipur Tiger reserve in the souther western ghats and mapped total 58 giant trees. About 60% of the total 58 trees are of genus Ficus. The genus Ficus is worshipped by local communities across India and fruits of these trees are critical source of food for all the birds. One more reason for tieing cultural conservation with biodiversity conservation.
We will continue to provide important insights into the wonderful world of giant trees and how they form an important network of stepping stones in the increasing fragmented and human modified forest landscapes of the Western Ghats.
Thanks for your attention and we sincerely hope that you will continue to support this unique conservation story.
Giant trees-Monsoon surveyAttachments: