A step towards what we love and understand

KFRI has brought out ‘Emerald Citadel,’ a coffee table book on Kerala’s verdant forests

In ‘Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest’ by William Henry Hudson, a young man reaches the tropical forests of Guyana where he meets a girl portrayed as a forest nymph who can communicate with birds.

‘Emerald Citadel,’ a coffee table book on Kerala’s verdant forests that has been brought out by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), is inspired by Hudson’s romance.

The 120-page coffee table book that showcases the beauty of the life-giving tropical forests on the Western slopes of the Western Ghats also invites the reader to know about the ‘green fortress,’ develop a love for them, and ultimately, contribute to its conservation.

The book speaks through pictures; most of the prominent wildlife photographers in the State have contributed to it. At the same time, it is designed to educate the reader through information on different types of forests in the State, supplemented by the visuals.

It is also reader-friendly, slowly drawing attention to how the role of forests in our lives is undermined and underplayed and how despite 24 protected areas, human-induced stress on forests have not come down to a minimum desired level. A quick look at the State’s past and its land and the Ghats’ designation as UNESCO World Heritage Site follow.

Though the book focusses on forests, these are seen in correlation to aspects such as the 44 rivers that flow through the State, the backwaters, climate, geology, and soil.

Besides the forest types, the flora and fauna typical to each are mentioned. Fungi, ferns, wildflowers, mangroves, the Myristica swamps, medicinal plants, insects, amphibians, all find a mention.

Forests resources such as timber, bamboo, honey, and sandalwood get space, as do protected areas such as sanctuaries and national parks that form a chunk of the forest cover of the State.

The book goes beyond forest conservation; cultural aspects of forests are also dwelt on through reference to ‘Thinais’ or landforms in Sangam literature of the ancient Tamilakam and how these can be seen in Kerala and how lives of tribespeople are intertwined with forests.

The book ends with a documentation of the activities taken up by the KFRI.

Syam Viswanath, Director, KFRI, in his introduction to the book quotes Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum’s words:

In the end we will conserve only what we love

we will love only what we understand,

and we will understand only what we have been taught’

The ‘Emerald Citadel’ is a step by the KFRI in this direction.


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