Shola grasslands of Munnar, Kodaikanal and the Nilgiris
Habitat of kurinji under destruction
The habitat of Kurinji under destruction: Picture shows kurinji plants growing on the grasslands (behind the white flowers and ferns) and shola forests sandwiched between eucalyptus plantations (right middle) and the denuded mountain ranges (top left).
The kurinji habitats in Munnar, Kodaikanal and the Nilgris are under threat. From the British planters of the Nineteenth century to the present day encroachers, many have converted the habitat of kurinji into plantations. Even the Forest Departments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu share the blame for destruction of the shola forests.

The Britishers had cleared the kurinji habitat mostly for tea plantations. However, they were careful in retaining some of those forests for gaming purposes. Some of them also recognised the importance of having the sholas to maintain the climate.

So, we now have vestiges of the shola vegetation such as that in the Eravikulam National Park. The park area was a gaming sanctuary patronised by the managers of the erstwhile Kannan Devan Hill Produce Company. The early documentation of the plants has also come from people such as Robert Wight and Captain Beddome.

The destruction of the shola forests in later years was more devastating. The Kerala Forest Department raised wattle in large areas to feed the tanning industry. Tamil Nadu raised pine forests on the Eastern slopes of Palani hills. Eucalyptus plantations were raised to meet the needs of wood based industries such as the Hindustan Newsprint Limited and the tea factories (which used wood as fuel). Much revenue and forest lands were encroached upon by planters and settlers. Fires caused further damage. The destruction of kurinji habitat was the most on the Tamil Nadu side between Kodaikanal and Munnar in the latter part of the 20th century.

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