Nature Conservation in Munnar
Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Private Limited owners of the brand Ripple Tea, one of the largest global tea producers, operates in the biodiversity-rich Kanan Devan Hills of Munnar, located in the Western Ghats of Kerala in South India. Today the Western Ghats are internationally recognized as one of the 24 global biodiversity hotspots – a highly prized distinction that the KDHP Company and its predecessors have untiringly striven to protect and nurture over the last 140 years, namely since 1878, Indeed conservation is an integral and inherent part of the company’s plantation operations.
Besides nearly 9,000 hectares of tea plantations, the KDHP Company has raised over 8,000 hectares of eucalyptus plantations primarily to fuel its factories and thereby dispense with fossil fuels and their toxic emissions. Further, the company has scrupulously preserved, untouched, vast tracts of pristine jungle (montane rainforests) as well as extensive grasslands and swamps. Here several perennial streams originate, providing water throughout the year for domestic and agricultural purposes for millions in the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. To bolster afforestation, the KDHP Company undertakes a forest regeneration programme annually to restore pockets damaged by wind, fire or human intrusion.
This age-old, meticulously implemented and ongoing tradition of conservation has ensured the ecological equilibrium of Munnar – a hill-resort extremely popular with tourists. Proof of the successful integration of commercial activity with conservation is the varied fauna and flora to be found in the KDHP Company’s well-forested tea estates and their environs. Besides the highly endangered Nilgiri tahr, there is a significant population of the elephant, gaur, sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, wild pig, wild dog, jackal, Nilgiri langur, giant Malabar squirrel, porcupine and hare apart from a bewildering variety of bird-life. Significantly, the tea gardens shelter a few tigers and panthers too. The company’s eco-friendly land use policy has ensured that man-animal conflict is minimal.
Keenly aware of the need for conservation, as early as 1928 the KDHP Company’s predecessors had set up a non-governmental organization (NGO) called the High Range Wildlife & Environment Preservation Association. Over the last 8 decades, this Association has played a crucial role in safeguarding Munnar’s diverse wildlife while preserving their natural habitats and the environment. In 1978 the Association was instrumental in setting up the well-known Eravikulam National Park, adjacent to the company’s tea estates, where the Nilgiri tahr and a host of other species of wildlife now thrive. The Eravikulam National Park, incidentally, is the only one in India to be jointly managed by the Forest Department and an NGO, namely the HRW&EPA
With the patronage of the KDHP Company, the HRW&EPA dynamically continues its conservation-oriented and pro-environment work which necessarily encompasses a wide spectrum of activities, all of which are undertaken by its committed members. Its sole mission is to spread the message of conservation far and wide and preserve for posterity the priceless legacy of biodiversity that we have inherited.