The Western Ghats and Tourism: Important Notes for exams

Features of Western Ghats: Here is all you need to know 

The Western Ghats is a mountain range that covers the western coast of India. It passes through the six states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

It is also known as Sahyadri and is one of the most important and protected areas in the World.

A Biodiversity Hotspot

The Western Ghats is not only an important biodiversity hotspot in India but all over the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is amongst the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world along with Sri Lanka.

It is a diverse area with various types of vegetation. The rainfall pattern across the Western Ghats is very wide and this contributes to the rich flora and fauns of that area. It has areas of geological, cultural and aesthetic values.

Area of Western Ghats

It stretches for 1,600 km across an area of 140,000 km² and is interrupted only by the 30 km Palghat Gap.

The highest peak of Western Ghats is Anaimudi Peak at 2,695 m.

Rivers that originate from the Western Ghats

Godavari, Kaveri, Krishna, Thamiraparani  and Tungabhadra rivers originate from the Western Ghats. These major rivers, along with various tributaries transverse this area and give rise to waterfalls, irrigation projects, hydroelectricity project and many more.

Read more: What is the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972?

Features of Western Ghats

  • It had also been recognised as a global Endemic Bird Area.
  • The forests types that can be seen here are-
  1. moist deciduous forests,
  2. montane rain forests,
  3. evergreen forests
  4. dry deciduous forests
  • It is home to almost 325 globally threatened species of flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptiles and fish that are included in the IUCN Red Data List.
  • They have a huge influence on the monsoon of India and act as a barrier for winds that blow from the south-west.
  • The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve which is a part of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program also falls in this area.

Protection of Western Ghats

The reports of two committees are very important that have been focused on protecting the Western Ghats-

1. Madhav Gadgil Committee Report on the Western Ghats

The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) recommended classifying the entire areas as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) and into 3 different zones with different level of protection.

2. Kasturirangan committee on the Western Ghats

It said to bring 37% of the hill under ESA. However, it also recommended a complete ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining. It differentiated it into 2 areas- cultural and natural landscapes.

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