Munnarakkunnu Trust

THT Conservation Grant 2022

Project Name:

Revitalising conservation of tender canopy-dependent flora in Wayanad, Kerala

Project Brief:

The rainforest canopy is a distinct edge world formed by diverse epiphytic plant species growing on trees. Threatened by habitat destruction and climate chaos, the canopy requires its own conservation strategy to support plants living in or under it, as well as for the fauna. Moreover, epiphytic communities have a profound effect on the hydrological cycle of the biome. At Munnarakkunnu Trust’s Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary (GBS) hundreds of Western Ghats canopy-dependent plants are under ex-situ conservation, with plans of expansion. This project will develop strategies and techniques for GBS to revitalise the rainforests of Wayanad, Kerala. Baseline data, for a wide range of plants ranging from mosses and ferns to orchids, will be collected by teams of trained community members; ex-situ conservation will ensure multiplication in established nurseries; outplanting will take place over a 70 acre preserve and connected lands and migration trials will be conducted to and from higher elevation locations. A culture of “canopy care” will be established by sharing protocols with the conservation community and engaging the general public to understand and protect canopy related species (flora and fauna) in their settings.

Project objectives:

The overall project is aimed at expanding the closed-canopy forest habitat adjoining the Periya Reserve Forest in Wayanad.

  • Document the canopy ecology, species composition and microclimatic conditions of GBS lands and adjoining privately-owned plantations.
  • Propagate forest habitat species at the GBS nursery, including salvaging from those to be subject to conversion and developmental pressure.
  • Establish a higher elevation propagation and restoration site for canopy species at Thiriyannara Refuge in the Nilgiri plateau.
  • Create a culture of canopy care in the project areas.
Highlights from field:
  • This project is ongoing.