Help of software companies sought to protect trees in Kodagu district

Deforestation is affecting flows into the Cauvery 
Firms will be requested to adopt trees in Kodagu villages
The Kodagu Model Forest Trust has identified villages
Financial incentives will be sought for retention of native trees


Bangalore: Software companies in Bangalore are being approached to provide financial assistance to farmers in Kodagu district to stop deforestation and prevent the Cauvery from going dry in summer.

“We will shortly initiate a dialogue with software firms in Bangalore on an individual basis and send letter of requests to them to provide funds for the protection of trees on private land (coffee plantations) in Kodagu,” C.G. Kushalappa, Honorary Secretary, Kodagu Model Forest Trust (KMFT), told The Hindu .

The KMFT is a non-governmental organisation operating from Ponnampet with the aim of protecting and conserving the integrity of forest ecosystems in Kodagu. Kodagu is the largest coffee-growing district in the country. In the wake of the fall in prices of coffee and other produce from plantations, land is being used for other purposes, and trees are being felled.

The loss of tree cover has a major impact on the Cauvery. Off-seasonal flow into streams has come down. “If the river has to survive, we need more trees on private land,” Mr. Kushalappa says.

As part of their corporate social responsibility, software firms are providing grants to communities. Under the system, the KMFT is looking at possibilities of companies funding a system of adoption of trees in villages in Kodagu, preferably in the Cauvery catchment area. “It has to be in the form of financial incentives, mainly for retention of native trees but not for exotic trees such as silver oak,” he said. For instance, a firm can adopt a village that has one lakh trees by paying a certain amount per tree per annum.

The KMFT has identified villages in the catchment area for adoption by corporates, which will supplement the eco-development centres operating there.

Mr. Kushalappa said the Cauvery is no longer only a dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “It is now an issue between different districts of Karnataka. Bangalore is one of the major users of Cauvery water and the demand is rising. We want to link the usage of water to the use of trees by farmers.”

He said the KMFT is looking at what Bangalore can do as a user of Cauvery water and whether software firms can pay for the protection of trees in Kodagu forests, which is a micro hotspot of biodiversity within the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats.

Courtesy: The Hindu/P.Manoj

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