Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology
Why in news?
- Environmental activists and local residents protested outside Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport against the government’s decision to fell over 10,000 trees in the Shivalik Elephant Reserve, Thano forest for expansion of the airport.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) had recently asked the Uttarakhand government to consider another area for the expansion.
- The expansion will threaten hundreds of species of fauna in Thano (near Rajaji National Park) and the elephant corridor nearby.
- The State also falls in seismic Zone IV and V, as per the Earthquake Zoning Map, and uprooting Thano will lead to soil erosion, a factor that exacerbated the 2013 Kedarnath floods, endangering countless lives.
- Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the 2011 order of the Madras High Court (HC) on the Nilgiris elephant corridor, affirming the right of passage of the animals and the closure of resorts in the area.
Shivalik Elephant Reserve
- It was notified in 2002 under the ‘Project Elephant’.
- The Kansora-Barkot Elephant Corridor is located near to it.
- The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus) occurs in the central and southern Western Ghats, North-east India, eastern India and northern India and in some parts of southern peninsular India. As per the Elephant Census, 2017, Karnataka has the highest population of Indian elephants.
Rajaji National Park
- Location: Haridwar, along the foothills of the Shivalik range, spans 820 square kilometres.
- Background: Three sanctuaries in the Uttarakhand i.e. Rajaji, Motichur and Chila were amalgamated into a large protected area and named Rajaji National Park in the year 1983 after the famous freedom fighter C. Rajgopalachari; popularly known as “Rajaji”.
- This area is the North Western Limit of habitat of Asian elephants.
- Forest types include sal forests, riverine forests, broad–leaved mixed forests, scrubland and grassy.
- It possesses as many as 23 species of mammals and 315 bird species such as elephants, tigers, leopards, deers and ghorals, etc.
- It was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2015.
- It is home to the Van Gujjars in the winters. Van Gujjars are one of the few forest-dwelling nomadic communities in the country.
Other Protected Areas in Uttarakhand
- Jim Corbett National Park (first National Park of India).
- Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and Sanctuary.
- Gangotri National Park.
- Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary.
-Source: Indian Express