GEOSPATIAL CHARACTERISATION OF LAND USE/ LAND COVER IN PAMBA RANGE OF PERIYAR TIGER RESERVE.Abin Varghese1, John C. M.2, Subin K. Jose3 and Punnen Kurian4
Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR), the largest protected area in the state of Kerala with an area of 925 sq. km. is under severe anthropogenic pressure due to the annual pilgrimage to the Sastha temple (Lord Ayyappa temple), located at Sabarimala, in the south-western Pamba range of the reserve. The present study was conducted in this background to analyse the land use/ land cover change in Sabarimala and Karimala sections of the Pamba range of PTR. The forest cover was decreased during the period 1967- 2004, whereas other geographical elements such as open forest and grassland showed significant increase in the area. 44.16% of forest area has been reduced during the period, where 30% of the forest area was converted to other land use. Grassland showed sharp increase of 34.17% area between 1967- 2004 and open forest showed 7% increase during the period. 4% of the total forest area was converted to barren area and settlements during the period. The increasing number of pilgrims with improper and unplanned infrastructural facilities with less concern of waste management are causing pressure on the biodiversity and thus resulted in drastic change in land cover of this key protected area in the central Kerala. The pilgrimage activities inside the PTR have to be scientifically managed for preventing the further change in land cover pattern of the protected area.
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