Jayashankar Bhupalpally: Environmental activists, nature lovers and academicians have urged the State government to take steps for the protection of the rare canebrake (calamus rotang) forest site in the district.
Though notified as cane reserve by the Forest Department, the cane forest near Palampet village in the district is facing habitat depletion and destruction. It is also facing threat from land grabbers, and needs immediate steps for protection.
Canes are one of the principal non-timber forest product (NTFP) species in India. Canes are otherwise called rattans (‘rotan’ is the local Malaya term for cane). Indonesia dominates rattan export while China is a major rattan importer with 59 per cent of global imports. Concerned by the reports of depleting rattan resource in the native habitats, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been piloting new initiatives focusing on rattan sustainability and traceability since 2009.
Calmus Rotang is found only near Palamapet below the Ramappa tank in the State. Though the total area of the cane forest was 51 acres in 1974 when it was identified as the cane reserve, the forest had shrunk in the later years. The local people were resorting to burning and converting the cane-habitat-cum-bat-roosting site into paddy fields, notwithstanding the fact that was a notified reserve residing alongside the road, proximate to the Ramappa Temple and Palampet village.
Following several requests by activists and academicians and scientists like Suthari Satish, the forest officials conducted a survey using the Global Positioning System (GPS) in 2014 and created the borders. During the survey, it was found that the cane was spread over just 43.04 acres. The forest officials visited the cane forest in 2014. “Later, a trench was dug up around the cane reserve, but there is a need to put up fence to protect the land from land grabbers. There were several attempts by the local people to usurp the land,” said Suthari Satish, who also published a research paper ‘Ecology and conservation status of canebrakes in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh, India on the cane forest’ in 2012.
On other hand, founder president of the Society for Public Welfare and Initiative (SPWI), Dr Devath Suresh said officials must take steps for immediate protection of land and cane forest. Environmental activist and Vana Seva Society (VSS) president Potlapally Veerabhadra Rao found fault with the lethargic attitude of the officials and demanded that the government take steps to protect this rare plant species. This cane reserve is also habitat of 122 plant species which need protection.