Native Tussock Grasses are endangered in the Nilgiris as over time some the species have stopped flowering and producing viable seeds. At the UE nursery, we have developed practices to preserve these grasses via propagation. After considerable propagation efforts, we now grow certain species from the seeds in our nursery. The resulting grasses are better equipped to produce seeds and to tackle the various pressures on their species as well as climate change. They continue to produce viable seeds and also grow into larger clumps and bags. Growing the grass or base layer in the 1st step of grassland restoration, which is why we are concentrating on growing these in large numbers. We intend to be able to work with more number of species of endangered grasses, in order to be able to grow back this basal layer in several locations. For instance, we are trying to develop compositions that can be most suitable for running sustainable forms of grazing-based livelihood and income generation.
We are constantly on the lookout to increase coverage areas of native plants and trees. We often use test plots to assess the level of resistance to invasive species before planting native varieties in larger plots. We also explore new techniques of planting that allow us to plant in larger patches. The Rhododendron arboretum tree is one example of a native species for which we are trying to find the right soil mixtures. They require natural micro-organism associations so that seeds can germinate profusely. This is similar to Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (a fruiting shrub). Our goals with these efforts are to increase the numbers of native species and improve biodiversity in any given land.
Climate change is having drastic impacts on biospheres across the planet. One of the alarming effects being noticed in the southern part of the Western Ghats, is the mass die-off of standing shola tree and forests. We have been observing and studying this phenomenon for seven years. Through our studies, we have found out that this is happening because of excess carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere. Trees are actually growing faster, and dying faster. This type of mortality is happening all over the planet, in forests all across. This is a very dangerous phenomena, as it that the atmosphere is turning toxic for vegetation and plant life. Several climate change policies are based on growing large amounts of trees as a mitigatory measures. These ecological happenings warrant urgent attention.
Read more about this in the book Voice of Sentient Highland, where the start of chapter seven deals with this topic in depth.