Nanmangalam Forest Area to become Naturalist Paradise Soon
Only a few decades ago no one quite knew what to do with the sprawling scrubland that is the Nanmangalam Reserve Forest (NRF) , but not anymore. It is all set to emerge as a nature lover’s preserve. Thanks to the nearly Rs 3 crore government fund, the state forest department is in the process of finalising the modalities of preserving the forest . Topping the list is a plan to erect a compound wall around a sizable portion of the now porous forest, which lies on the Tambaram-Velachery Main Road in Chennai .
There are other plans as well – such as permitting nature trails in future, along the lines of the one in the Gunidy National Park (GNP). “ We want to do everything to preserve the eco system of the forest, and develop it into an eco- tourism spot,” said an official, adding that preliminary work was well under way. T Sekar, Chief Conservator, Forest, and other officials have spent many hours inside the reserve forest, studying the terrain, and the rich biodiversity. Spread over 320 hectares, the NRF lies a few kilometres west of the Pallikaranai marshland. The forest is home to nearly 500 species of flora and fauna, and over 83 species of birds have been spotted here. The NRF, where deciduous, thorny shrub grow, was once the target practice ground of the Indian Military. The forest also boasts a quarry, but quarrying work was stopped in 1985, three years after the passing of the Forest Conservation Act.
The disused quarry is home to the horned owls. At a recent count at least a dozen horned owls were found to be roosting there. The breeding season is between November and March, and a couple of years ago, one of the horned owls had laid five eggs, although the standard is only three eggs.While their healthy head count is a cause for celebration, experts point out that the horned owls for their sustenance, particularly the snakes and frogs which live around the pond .
The forest is also home to the black-naped hare, jackals and small mammals. Naturalists say they have also spotted yellow footed pigeon, long -tailed Minivet and migratory birds such as the Rosy Pastor . “The spot billed duck is a visitor, and there are some insects which closely resemble those found in the Himalayas, and these need to be studied,” says KVRK Thirunaranan, of Nature Trust, an NGO. “We are very happy with the action taken by the government in preserving this area. The NFR will turn into a live biological space, and will not lose its distinct wilderness touch,” adds Thirunaranan.
The first priority is to contain human interference, and allow the eco system to flourish, says a ranger. “The wall would keep out anti social elements, and once systems are in place, we hope to allow nature trails in the near future,” he adds.
The road map to conservation has won widespread acclaim, and some experts say it is necessary to safeguard against turning the forest into a fortress. “ A barbed wire fence would be less obtrusive compared to a concrete wall, since a wall could be a hindrance to small mammals, and can disorient birds to some extent,” says D Narasimhan, department of botany, Madras Christian College. “Some amount of transparency would be beneficial all round,” he adds.
With officials focusing on improving the NRF, naturalists say this area, on the, could turn out to be another Guindy National Park.
Posted on July 20, 2012, in Ecological Restoration in Chennai, Heritage of Chennai and tagged chennai, guindy national park, Nanmangalam Reserve Forest, Pallikaranai, Trail. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.