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‘Eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) declaration around the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary’

Published: 15th Feb, 2021


The State government of Kerala has requested Prime Minister NarendraModi’sintervention on the draft notification issued by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) notifying 118.59 sqkms around Wayanad wildlife sanctuary as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ).


What is Eco-Sensitive Zone?

  • The Eco Sensitive Zones are envisaged as a cushion or shock absorbers for protected areas. They are supposed to act as the transition zones from areas of high protection to less protection. 
  • They are notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. 
  • They are like an ecotone- the transition between two biological communities or ecosystems, and it is crucial for the protection of protected areas like wildlife sanctuaries and forests.
  • Its aim is to reduce the impact of human intervention in the core protected area.

What does the State want?

  • The Kerala government is of the view that while notifying eco-sensitive zones, densely populated areas should be excluded.
  • In the case of Wayanad wildlife sanctuary areas such as Tholpetty, Kattikkulam, Panavalli, Kurukkanmoola, Chaligadha and Kappistore, Cheeyambam, Moodakolly, Cheeral are the areas to be excluded.
  • The Kerala government had prepared recommendations for notifying eco-sensitive zones around 21 protected areas in December 2019.
    • According to this amended proposal for draft notification the extent of eco-sensitive zone goes up to 88.2 sq.kms.

What is in the notification?

  • The ESZ, as per the draft notification, will cover an area of 118.59 km, which includes 8.89 km of the Tirunelly reserve forest of north Wayanad and 17.67 km of Chedelaythu range in south Wayanad.
  • It also included 18.21 sq. km of human settlements, inside the forest.
  • The State government had submitted a revised draft notification by reducing the ESZ to 88.21 sq. km after excluding the human settlements on 30 sq. Km.

The concerns

  • The biodiversity-rich Wayanad wildlife sanctuary has a sizeable elephant and tiger population.
  • However, there have been concerns over the environmental degradation of Wayanad, which is also a tourist’s haven.

Wayanad wildlife sanctuary

  • The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is an animal sanctuary in Wayanad, Kerala, India.
  • The sanctuary, spread over 344.44 sq km, is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere in the Western Ghats and contiguous to the tiger reserves of Nagerhole and Bandipur of Karnataka and Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu. 

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