Godwin Vasanth Bosco gave up the comfort of a secure life in Europe to return to the Nilgiris. The restoration ecologist has spent more than a decade in the study and restoration of the famous Nilgiri plateau. Shola forest is a tableland inside the Nilgiri biosphere and touches the Western Ghats, but is situated at a higher range. The famous Ooty hill station is part of this plateau.
The Nilgiris consist of shola forests but are dominated by the grassland which covers 70% of the area. But the unique beauty of the green hills, the Blue Mountains, and the undulating tea estates hide a harsh secret.
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The tea estates set up by the British rule have irrevocably harmed the natural ecology of the Shola forest. The British introduced non-native species like the tea plants, wattle, the eucalyptus, and timber plantations that destroyed the native grasslands. A new ecology was created from these foreign invasive species that upset the local ecosystem.
The lush shola forests and the rolling grasslands are now covered with homes, farms, and power projects.
A Life Dedicated To The Shola Forests
Godwin Bosco has dedicated his life to reversing the harm done to the shola forests. Upstream ecology, his ecology company nurtures a nursery for the indigenous grasslands which he started in 2013. He collects and cultivates the native species, mainly the many varieties of grass that are important for preserving the natural ecosystem. He collaborates with private and government bodies to repair the plateau and educate and involve people in his initiative.
He gave up a career in engineering in 2009 to devote himself fully to the study of plant ecology plus the threat that mountain ecology faces from invasive species. He studied at Kerala’s Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary and Uttarakhand’s Himal Prakriti. He came to the Nilgiris in 2010 as an associate researcher.
Godwin Bosco has been instrumental in restoring more than 200 acres of land in the Shola forest of Nilgiris. He has detailed his experience in his book Voice of a Sentient Highland (2019). The book details the havoc that climate change wreaked on the local ecosystem of the Nilgiris. He believes that re-wilding and aligning with the needs of indigenous communities can only save the ecology of a region.
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