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Errors found in ESA maps of Kerala remote sensing centre

India: According to a report published by leading English newspaper, The New Indian Express, the maps of Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAs) in the state of Kerala, drafted by the Kerala State Remote Sensing and Environment Centre (KSREC), have major discrepancies including showcasing of Mathikettan Shola, a national park, as agricultural land.

According to environmentalists, the new map excluding human settlements, plantations and agricultural land from the ESAs, identified by K Kasturirangan-headed High Level Working Group for Conservation of Western Ghats, also fails to identify ecological hot spots like Wagamon and Kuruva islands as protected areas. The map accessible at the KSREC portal also disputably identifies some of these regions as farm lands. Environmentalists are now planning to launch a campaign against the callous approach of the government while documenting ecologically sensitive areas that need conservation.

Further, the report quotes A Lata, Director, River Research Centre, Chalakudy, saying that the map fails to draw connectivity between the fragmented forest areas in the state. “There are two major mistakes that the map has made. One, a major chunk of the ESAs in the map is Kerala’s forest area. It has not considered the adjoining forest areas that are equally important while demarcating ESAs. Second, the ESA demarcation exercise is bound to create continuity between Kerala’s forest regions, which remain fragmented at present.”

Source: The New Indian Express