Shola forests under threat at Ponmudi
Jewel orchid
TRIVANDRUM, Dec. 5, 2007:Another patch of shola forests surrounding Agasthayarmalai will be lost when the campus of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology comes up at Maruthuamala near Ponmudi.

The State Government has allocated 100 acres for the campus at Maruthamala. The proposed site is an integral part of Agasthyarkoodam Biosphere Reserve and a pucca wildlife habitat and forest.

Its destruction would be another blow on the sensitive ecosystem of Agasthyarkoodam and its surroundings, which has been declared a biodiversity hotspot.

The proposed site harbours several endemic species such as Gluta travancorica and the jewel orchid (Anoectochilus elatus) and is home to several animals such as elephants and sambar deer.

The site has a high gradient between the upper portion habouring the shola forests and the lower portion habouring evergreen forests. The elevation drops by more than 300 metres between these areas.

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