KAAS INFO

Background

The State of Maharashtra, India hosts a niche-treasure of biodiversity in its Western Ghats called „Kaas

– Plateau of Flowers‟. Geographically located at 17º42‟ – 17º45‟ N and 73º47‟ – 73º56‟E in the Satara

district of Maharashtra, Kaas is a lateritic plateau at height of 1200 meter above mean sea level. It is

spread over about 1800 hectors of land. More than 450 species of wild flowers bloom in and after

monsoon season, most of them are endemic herbs. This area has been attracting the attention of

tourists, botanists and environmentalists over last decade. It is a sensitive hotspot of biodiversity due to

its varieties of unique endemic herbs, shrubs and other flora and fauna. The studies are already

undertaken to list its endemism.

The area is under the threat not only from the thousands of insensitive tourists but also of  the

indiscriminate development processes that do not undertake environmental impact assessment. The

poachers and biotic invasion due to extensive traffic especially during the flowering season has

endangered the natural habitat over the plateau. Unfortunately the villagers surrounding this plateau are

very poor and illiterate. They are aware of their natural heritage of their neighborhood, but almost

unaware of the future threats to their environmental wealth that contributes directly and indirectly to

their own livelihood.

Conservation and true development must be complimentary to each other. Process of satisfying our

present needs should not compromise the ability of future generations to utilize natural resources for

their own needs. Young generation from surrounding of Kaas has already shifted to metro cities like

Pune and Mumbai. The villages are totally dependent economically upon their earnings. Using the

local natural resources of Kais the young individual These young individuals can be entrepreneurs

in eco-tour conductors, drivers, waste recovery and recycling, food package suppliers, guides etc.

Context

Kaas has been already listed in the Western Ghats Serial nomination as sector 7 (area is characterized

by superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance)

along with Koyna, Chandoli and Radhanagari wildlife sanctuaries. Once the plateau gets recognition by

UNESCO as World Heritage Site, the conservation movement will gather speed and would get

appropriate guidance with technical and financial support. The World Heritage Committee has not yet

approved the proposal of the World Heritage Site but in the decision (Decision 35COM 8B.9 – Natural

Properties  – Western Ghats -India) refers back to the State Party to address some important issues,

which include engaging local communities, creating awareness and capacity building efforts for the

natural conservation.

The proposed seminar addresses the recommendation of the Committee. The intervening period

(expected to be long and challenging) between now and the declaration of the area as World Heritage site could be best utilized to kick-start the actions on capacity building and awareness of the local

community.

Proposal

One day workshop will be organized in Satara (25 kms from Kaas), a District Head quarters to achieve

objectives listed below. The seminar will be first of its kind on Kaas Plateau. It will be held as

complimentary efforts to those by the Govt. of India, Government of Maharashtra, IUCN and other

NGOs working in this field. It will link with the arrangements between the Western Ghats Natural

Heritage Committee and the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel.

Objective:

Overall objective is to launch the process of the conservation of the natural heritage and leverage it for

the sustainable development. It is not only for keeping this beautiful colorful carpet with endless

variety of flora for the years as show piece, but also to ensure its utility for the continuity of the

agricultural productivity through the enhanced pollination, nutrient cycle and biodiversity. „Three Tier

Management System‟ including national, state and local level biodiversity committee should be

established which is successfully established at „Valley Of Flowers‟ in Uttaranchal state of India.

The relevant stakeholders will get together on one platform to:

1. Deliberate on the present status and future threats to Kaas.

2. Discuss and plan for the early actions for the preservation of the Kaas to mitigate the future

threats due to indiscriminate development processes and climate change.

3. Prioritize the early activities of Community Development, Capacity Building and Awareness

amongst the local villagers, tourists, government authorities and NGOs.

4. Identify Community based Social Business opportunities e.g. Eco-tourism for the local

youths.

5. Plan for compilation of the existing and future Biodiversity Research work

6. Make recommendation of  „Three Tier Management System‟ including national, state and

local level biodiversity committee in line with the similar system successfully established at

„Valley Of Flowers‟ in Uttaranchal state of India.

7. Deliberate on resource mobilization.

The draft agenda is attached.

Participants

Local communities, youth, researchers, academicians, entrepreneurs, eco-tour operators, transport

operators, entrepreneurs of waste recovery and recycling, food package suppliers, guides, trainers and

promoters of new ways of agriculture, government representatives (forest, environment, development),

NGOs.

Organizers

Ranwata Nature and Environment Society-Satara, Hospital Owners Assciation-Satara, TERRE Policy

Centre-Pune.

Support

UNESCO, IUCN, MOEF, Government of Maharashtra.

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