Kas: Maharashtra’s very own Valley of flowers is vanishing’
Come monsoons, and the carpets of wild flowers attracts thousands of visitors every year to Kas plateau, a UNESCO natural World Heritage site! A place of botanical significance, this rocky plateau supports around 250 flowering plants, with mind boggling adaptations- carnivory, parasitism, desiccation tolerance- to survive this habitat of extreme environmental conditions which spares no one… Many of the plants are endemic to this region which means species found nowhere else in the world! However, all is not well with Maharashtra’s wild flower paradise…. this ecologically fragile area now faces a serious threat from mass tourism.
The talk will take you on a journey of Kas through the eyes of a young researcher- how the plants exist there to play an ecologically important role, how the lives of the local communities are intricately woven with the delicate cycle of the plateau, how one’s fancy ideas of conservation are shaken after witnessing the ground reality and most importantly how human actions are posing a grave threat to this biodiversity rich area. The talk would conclude with a discussion on the role each one of us can play in conserving our natural heritage, our Kas pathar…
Speaker: Ms. Prerna Agarwal
A brief about the speaker: Wild plants and gardening always fascinated me. To transform this passion into a profession, I received a broad training in plant ecology during my Masters course in Biodiversity from University of Pune followed by a research internship at University of Leeds, UK, as part of the UK-India Education Research Initiative. Since the past four years I am working on Kas plateau to try and understand the impact of tourism on the ephemeral vegetation. This project is funded by Rufford Small Grant Foundation, UK. I also work as a free-lance biodiversity consultant.