Kodagu Model Forest

Country: India
Location: Kodagu District, Karnataka State, India
Year joined IMFN: 2003
Area of Model Forest: 4108 sq. kms
Regional affiliation: RMFN - Asia
Contact information:
The Chairman
Secretariat, Kodagu Model Forest Trust, College of Forestry, Ponnampet
Kodagu -571216, Karnataka, India
Phone :+91 8274 249980
Email: kodagu@imfn.net
Website: www.kmft.in

Forest profile and resources

The hills and valleys of Kodagu district are covered with dense forests ranging from dry to moist deciduous and evergreen forests. This diversity of forests provides varied habitats for a host of mammals, birds and reptiles. To protect these diversified species three Wildlife Sanctuaries (Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary) and a National Park (Nagarhole National Park) have been created.

Kodagu has approximately 80% of its geographical area under tree cover, making it one of the most densely forested districts in the country. The many diverse kinds of vegetation found in the district is why Kodagu is considered as one of the micro hotspots of biodiversity within the larger hotspots of the Western Ghats. The district is not only unique in the types of vegetation but also in respect of the management of tree growth in the different land tenures of which there are 38 types. The forested land can be grouped into three major types, and are described as follows:

  • Reserve Forests (RF) encompass an area of 1259,22 sq.km. or 30 per cent of the district. A large portion of the district lies in the Western Ghats and the dense green forests are one of the most complex and fragile of ecosystems in the world. The forest and vegetation inter-mix could be grouped into the evergreen forest with sholas, the semi-evergreen, the moist deciduous and the scrub forests.
  • Private Forests (PFs) are those privately owned areas that are found in coffee and cardamom plantations which support a wide variety of tree vegetation. Nearly 33 per cent of the geographical area of the district is under such holdings. The tree diversity and management in these PFs depends on the nature of land tenure.
  • Other Forests (OFs) are those that include sacred groves, paisaries, uruduves, jamma malais and coffee saguvali malais.

The vegetation in Kodagu follows a typical west to east gradient and is correlated to the similar west to east relief rainfall and temperature gradient. Evergreen and semi-evergreen forests blanket the western and central regions of the district. Moist and dry deciduous forests dominate some parts of the eastern regions, and the eastern and southeastern areas of the district contain scrub forests.

Economic profile

Kodagu district, the Model Forest area is known for the life sustaining river Cauvery, coffee, orange, honey and its people.The district is the home of martial men including two former commanders of the Indian Army and innumerable number of soldiers. The population is a mixture of native and migrant communities of agriculturist and dependent workforce. With an economy dependent on plantation crops, forest products and agricultural crops, the Human Development Index of Kodagu is very high and could be one of the highest for the country. The district is the largest coffee producer in the country and contributes to the valuable foreign exchange. The spices crop such as pepper, cardamom, ginger etc., earns good returns. The valleys are very fertile and are used for cultivation of paddy.

Why a Model Forest?

Kodagu district is a micro hotspot of biodiversity within the Western Ghats, which is one of the 8 Hottest Hotspots of biodiversity in the world. This ecologically fragile district with 80% of its 4108 Sq.Km area under tree cover is threatened due to the increasing pressure on its natural resources.

The pressure has resulted in issues leading to:

  • Degradation of natural forests
  • Loss of tree cover and diversity in private plantations
  • Loss in aquatic ecosystem related biodiversity and depletion of ground water resources
  • Economic instability and related impacts on livelihood
  • Lack of knowledge and awareness in environment related issues
  • Increase in man animal conflict
  • Marginalisation of indigenous communities due to improper focus on their livelihood and resultant socio-economic crisis
  • Degradation of community lands like sacred groves.

Hence to think over and implement effective and timely action programs for conservation and protection through sustainable management of the Kodagu’s forests and save this fragile and life sustaining fragile ecosystem, the concept of a Model Forest program was initiated during August 2000 by a group of likeminded people and organizations who are stakeholders and are aware and involved in conservation activities.

Partners

  • Agricultural Scientists Forum of Kodagu (ASFK)
  • Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad.
  • Coffee Board, Bangalore
  • College of Forestry, Ponnampet,
  • Coorg Wildlife Society, Madikeri
  • Kodagu Zilla Devakad Takkamukyasthara Mahamandali, Madikeri
  • Skanda Coffee Company, Bangalore
  • Tata Coffee Ltd, Pollibetta
  • The Coorg Foundation, Pollibetta
  • Kodira A. Kushalapa IFS (Retd)
  • Shri K.G.Uthappa, Advocate

Strategic goals

  1. To enhance the integrity of the forest ecosystems in Kodagu through the promotion and application of the principles of sustainable forest management in sacred groves, protected areas, private holdings and public land.
  2. To Foster the socio-economic development of the peoples and communities within Kodagu
  3. To increase public awareness and education on sustainability and other environmental issues in Kodagu and the Western Ghats
  4. To Enhance community participation in the management and conservation of Kodagu
  5. To share knowledge and experience in sustainable forest management through the Western Ghats and within the International Model Forest Network.
  6. To have Kodagu District declared as a United Nations World Heritage Site.

Achievements to date

  • The Tapovana project for eco-restoration of grassy blanks in the Talacauvery wildlife Sanctuary aims to re-vegetate the grassy blanks using the concept of eco-restoration using a collaborative approach.
  • Civil Service Training Centre: Established at College of Forestry, Ponnampet, the centre has books and resource materials for students from College of Forestry who are preparing for various Civil Service examinations conducted by Public Service Commissions of State and Union.
  • The Model Forest has published a book titled “Land Tenures, Land Holdings, Tree Rights of Kodagu”. The book while providing information also suggests solutions and measures for overcoming several problems faced by people of Kodagu.
  • Policy impact: In pursuance of the release of the book noted above, the Model Forest has participated in the meeting with the Chief Secretary and with Principal Secretary, Department of Environment and forests of Government of Karnataka. We have also submitted a memorandum with regard to clearing of confusions pertaining to land tenures and tree rights in Kodagu District with a view to assist the landholders.
  • An endowment has been established by the trust for rewarding best Eco Development Committees and Best School Eco Clubs of Kodagu.
  • Kodagu Model Forest is a part of the review committee nominated by the forest department to review the progress of work undertaken by the Eco-Development committees in Virajpet Forest Division to evaluate the afforestation and other works.
  • Provided technical assistance to Eco Development Committees for rejuvenating sacred groves in Kadanoor, Mythadi, Devarapura and Kaikadu. A watchman has been provided by Kodagu for the protection of Devarakadu (Sacred Grove - designated as a protected forest under Karnataka Forest Act, 1963).
  • Organic rejuvenation of Coorg Mandarins through multi-location trials: This project is an attempt to revive Coorg mandarins, a historically important crop, by taking up trials with organic fanning systems at multi-locations.
  • Kodagu Model Forest’s Community Foundation Program for indigenous communities of Kodagu and their development through mobilization of capital for sustainable and environment friendly investments
  • Workshops and meetings on bamboo harvesting and value added
  • Training programs: Education and awareness building among the local communities on rainwater harvesting.