ENVIS Technical Report: 112,  July 2016

Pond with Native Green cover (in the catchment) to Sustain Hydrological regime- Jain

Temple (mutt) Area, Moodabidri, Dakshina Kannada District

Ramachandra T.V.            Vinay S.            Akhil C. A.            M.D. Subash Chandran

Western  Ghats  mountain  ranges  constitute  the  gorgeous  array  of  mountains  along  the  west coast  (8°  to 22°  N, 73°  to 78  °E  )  of  India,  separating  the  Deccan  Plateau  and  a  narrow  coastal  strip  (along  the  Arabian Sea). The mountain range starts from the southern part of the Tapti River near the border area of the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.  The Western Ghats is one among the 34 global hotspots of biodiversity and it lies in the western part of peninsular India stretching over a distance of 1,600 km from north to south and covering an area of about 1,60,000 sq.km.  It harbours very rich flora and fauna and there are records of over 4,000 species of flowering plants with 38% endemics, 330 butterflies with 11% endemics, 156 reptiles with 62% endemics, 508 birds with 4% endemics, 120 mammals with 12% endemics, 289 fishes with 41% endemics and 135 amphibians with 75% endemics (http://wgbis.ces.iisc.ernet.in/biodiversity/pubs/ ces_tr/TR122/index.htm). The climate is also extremely variable. The rainfall varies from 5000 mm per annum in windward areas to less than 600 mm in the leeward or rain shadow areas with prolonged dry season. Forests play a major role in ecological functions, biogeochemical cycles, controlling soil erosion and sedimentation process, control floods, cater water to the users (environmental, societal), act as efficient carbon sink by trapping free carbon in the atmosphere and reducing the temperature to less than a degree compared to the surroundings, helps creating micro climate

The vegetation varies from broadly having evergreen, semi-evergreen, deciduous, scrub forests, sholas, grasslands and bamboo clumps. Factors including sunlight, rainfall, humidity, altitude, topography and location contribute to the uniqueness of this habitat, its animal and plant diversity. Plants species such as Holigarna grahamii (Wight) Kurz, Garcinia sp., Mitragyna parvifolia (Roxb.) Korth., Lophopetalum wightianum Arn., Syzygium leatum (Buch.-Ham.) Gandhi, Entada rheedei Spreng., Calamus prasinus Lak. & Renuka and the like represent evergreen, semi evergreen and moist deciduous species of the Western Ghats (Pascal and Ramesh, 1987, Pascal, 1988). These species generally thrive in Western Ghats with the unique climatic and edaphic factors and are not generally found thriving in other plateau regions.

Mini forest created at IISc campus about 25 years back with 500 saplings of forty nine species of trees from Western Ghats forests were planted on a 1.5 hectare tract of Deccan plateau (in the campus of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore) and their performance monitored for 25 years. The objective was to evaluate their adaptability to a habitat and conditions apparently alien to these species. The study was also meant to understand the linkages of these trees with the surrounding environment.  Contrary to the belief that tree species are very sensitive to change of location and conditions, the introduced trees have grown as good as they would do in their native habitat and maintained their phenology. Further, they have grown in perfect harmony with trees native to the location. The results show that the introduced species readily acclimatized and grew well overcoming the need for the edaphic and other factors that are believed to be responsible for their endemicity. Progressively there was development of rich micro/macro fauna including reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals and insects, also mosses, algae, fungi, ferns, herbaceous plants and climbers have grown well adapting to the micro climate. Besides ex situ conservation, the creation of mini-forest has other accrued ecosystem benefits. For instance, the land surface temperature analysis using thermal band of Landsat ETM showed that the temperature was 2 degree lower in the campus compared to the surrounding regions (Figure 1). The ground water table in the campus has increased from a depth 70m (before mini-forest) to nearly 3.5 m depth after the land use change to forest.

Figure 1: Temperature dynamics

The objective of the study is to create a pond and forest in order to supplement the ground water potential in the pre monsoon seasons, form a micro climate/ habitat that cater needs to various fauna species.

Study area: The site belongs to the Jain mutt encompassing an area of 11 acres. The site is located near Ammanottu cross of the Mangalore Solapur Highway, Mudabidre town of Karkala taluk in Udupi (Figure 2). Moodabidri receives annual average rainfall of 4200mm of which 80% of the rainfall is due to the south west monsoon between June and September. Temperature at Moodabidri varies between 18OC to 36OC.

Figure 2: Study area