The sacred groves of Kerala to be protected by the Forest Dept
In the olden days, almost all Kerala homesteads had sacred groves dedicated to the serpent Gods and goddesses. The fear of the unknown and religious beliefs ensured the thriving of these green spots, which were rich in a variety of flora and fauna. Home to many rare and unique plants and trees of Kerala, these sacred groves are self sustaining mini ecosystems that are to be protected at any cost. With the advent of nuclear families and gated communities, many sprawling family properties were divided up, leading to the disappearance of such groves.
Known in local parlance as ‘sarpakkavu’ or the abode of the serpents, these groves are ecological havens that have been part of Kerala homes since time immemorial. The thickly foliaged trees, creepers and shrubs support a variety of animal populace including lizards, squirrels and frogs and snakes, prevents soil erosion and maintains the fertility of the soil.
Now the Forest Dept has come up with an innovative scheme to ensure the protection of these verdant spots. In the first phase of this project, 28 sacred groves mostly belonging to the temple trusts and Devaswom Board in various districts of the State have been identified for the conservation programme. Under the proposed plan of action, the owners of the groves should enter an agreement with the forest department and submit a detailed management plan. The scheme will cover individuals as well at a later date. The main objective of the proposed scheme is to bring an accountability and the involvement of the general public. The project will ensure constant monitoring, maintenance and cleaning of the groves at the community level for which incentives are being worked out. Labeling of important species of trees, laying of pavements, eco- trails, weeding and protection of these groves would be taken care of under this scheme.
The Kerala Forest research at Peechi has started preparing an inventory of all the sacred groves in the state An exceptional feature of Kerala homes, sacred groves have a great significance in the culture and life style of Keralites. This ambitious project would help in the protection of the existing groves and to make the younger generation aware of the relevance of these groves in the culture of Kerala.