Despite the Kerala government’s recent decision to hold off on declaring 364.5 hectares of land at Chinnakkanal as a reserve forest, environmentalists are raising their voices for the urgent protection of Pappathi Chola, a biodiversity hotspot nestled within the proposed area.
Pappathi Chola, aptly named after the Tamil word “Pappathi” meaning butterfly, is a vibrant tapestry of life teeming with a dazzling array of butterflies. This haven for winged wonders also serves as a crucial habitat for diverse flora and fauna, including rare balsams (Impatiens balsamina), exquisite orchids, and the breathtaking Neelakurinji flower that blooms only once every 12 years.
However, this ecological gem faces several threats, including human encroachment, invasive species like eucalyptus plantations disrupting the delicate balance, and potential unsustainable development projects. Conservationists warn that these dangers endanger not only the rich biodiversity of Pappathi Chola but also the clean air and water it provides for surrounding communities.
The recent suspension of the reserve forest plan has added urgency to the calls for conservation. While the Forest Department assures protection of the area, environmentalists advocate for concrete steps like comprehensive ecological restoration, eradication of invasive species, and implementation of sustainable management practices.
M.N. Jayachandran, an environmentalist, emphasizes the immediate need for action. He reminds us that Pappathi Chola already made headlines in 2017 when a Revenue department team demolished an unauthorized structure on government land within the area, highlighting the importance of protecting this ecologically sensitive treasure.
Pappathi Chola stands as a beacon of Kerala’s rich biodiversity, but its future hangs in the balance. By joining hands and advocating for its protection, we can ensure that this butterfly haven continues to thrive, its vibrant wings beating with life for generations to come.