A tale of Velvandi Valley

A valley in Western Ghats, supposed to be one of the most biodiverse zones on Planet Earth, has almost ZERO native mature trees except few in protected sacred grooves (देवराई). What does it tell?

Well, many things. At least, this is how I see it.

Greed makes us insensitive.
Few decades ago, the valley was buzzing with charcoal making. Many earth mound based charcoal bhattis existed to produce charcoal from forest wood to meet charcoal demands of industries. The mature forest trees were brought down. While local villagers’ needs for fire wood would have been well satisfied by the forest, it could not satisfy a greed of corrupt-insensitive state & industries.

The aftermath was devastating and we are still facing it’s consequences.

With the tree canopy gone, combined with heavy rainfalls of Western Ghats, all humus rich fertile top soil is washed away. Once perennial streams, now dried up.

While above was because of industrial revolution, green revolution has added more problems. But the fundamentals are the same – greed & insensitivity. And to some extent our ignorance.

Soil fertility was lost and we wanted higher crop yields. The solution that we have adopted is even more disastrous – usage of chemical based fertilizers, pesticides & herbicides. Given our mountainous terrain & laterite sandy soil, all those toxins gets leached heavily during monsoon & pollutes our fresh water bodies. And ultimately us and our future generations – water is 60% of our body.

Soil fertility is not those NPK in numbers. Fertility means life – are our soils bursting with life?

Way forward?
The clock is ticking, but there are no short cuts in nature. Mother Nature is well capable of recovering if we stop our interferences.

If we must, let’s participate in mindful restoration.

Out of three Permaculture values, Earth care needs to be given the highest priority right now.

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