Over 150 million years the Indian Sub-continent broke up from the Super Continent that was Gondwana, this is split created the mountain ranges of the western ghats as we know today. Creating huge 1000 meter cliffs on the western coasts of India. The millennia of erosions and climatic forces would create what we now know as the Malabar Coast.
“The western ghats are home to nearly 1800 endemic species“
This coast and the adjacent mountain ranges compose of one of the most diverse biospheres on the planet. Countless rivers drain from the western ghats into the seas on both sides of the western ghats, Numerous rainforest systems are within these ghats, of which’s importance is largely forgotten. Countless factors create a devastating conservation issue on these hills that was started over centuries ago during the colonial rule.
It was during the British rule that the western ghats became suitable land for agriculture and settlements until then it was home to tribes of hunter gatherers and subsistence farmers. Once a contiguous chain of rain forests and habitats have since then been fragmented with heavy felling of endemic trees and slaughter of wildlife.
The western ghats became one of the prized assets of the Raj, as it provided the perfect climate for tea and coffee plantations. These clear-felling continued on until the Independence of India. After which the then estates and plantations continued to operate and illegal felling and poaching continued on in the forests.
“Landslides kill hundreds of people each year in the region in the monsoon“
Though the western ghats only covers about 5% of India’s landmass it includes nearly 27% of the species of the country of which more than 1800 are endemic to the Ghats. This has come to greater attention during the later half of the 20th century and has set ways for policies by the government to protect the fragile ecosystem. These policies did not revert back the damages but at their core they made sure that the forests remained untouched from encroachment thereafter.
The government with pressure from conservationists has setup panels to frame policies on what the future should look like for the conservation. But these policies largely lie in papers as the people in these ecologically sensitive areas strongly oppose any control on the use of land. But with the rapid climate change in the whole of the planet it is become much clearer that public outcry shouldn’t dictate educated policies.
The yearly landslides that kill hundreds of people each year in the region in the monsoon, the lack of water during the summer, record high temperatures each year are all indicative that it is high time actions are taken.
The issues in the western ghats are carbon copies of issues elsewhere in the world facing similar or worse ecological situation due to global warming and the increased greenhouse gases, be it wildfires and droughts in California, Southern African countries, Southern Europe and the floods and landslides in Eastern Australia, Henan, and even in other parts of India.
It is thus high time that actions are taken around the globe to tackle the causes of climate change from the bottom up. Only then there can be a more sustainable environment for us humans as well as the earth and its diverse species at large.
“It is a test whether we learn from the past mistakes or bound to repeat the same going forward.“
Humanity is at stake; History is at make.