The primary deciduous forests in the Eastern Ghats (EG) of Tamil Nadu (TN) India have undergone many changes owing to various need-based forest managements, such as timber extraction for industry, railway sleepers, charcoal, and forest clearance for hydroelectric projects and agriculture, during preindependence and postindependence periods (i.e., from 1800 to 1980). The enactment of a forest conservation act during the 1980s changed the perception of forest managers from utilization to conservation. This study was taken up to assess the forests dynamics in the EG of TN spatially between 1990 and 2003 and nonspatially between 1900 and the 1980s. Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Indian Remote Sensing satellite (IRS) 1D Linear Imaging and Self Scanning (LISS III) data were used to assess forests during 1990 and 2003, respectively. Field floristic survey and secondary data (such as published literature, floras, books, and forest working plans) were used to assess the forest dynamics in terms of forest type and species composition among the preindependence period, the postindependence period, and the present (i.e., before and after 1980). The satellite data analysis revealed a considerable amount of changes in all forest types during the 13 years. The comparison of species composition and forest types between the past and present revealed that need-based forest management along with anthropogenic activity have altered the primary deciduous forest in to secondary and postextraction secondary forests such as southern thorn and southern thorn scrub forests in the middle [400-900 m above mean sea level (MSL)] and lower slopes (<400 m MSL). However, the evergreen forests present at the upper slope (>900 m MSL) and plateau seemed not to be much affected by the forest management. The changes estimated by the satellite data processing in the major forest types such as evergreen, deciduous, southern thorn, and southern thorn scrub are really alarming because these changes have occurred after the implementation of a forest conservation act. The dependence of local people on forests for various purposes in this region is also considerably high, which might be a key factor for the changes in the forests. The results of this study not only provide an outlook on the present status of the forests and the change trends but also provide the basis for further studies on forests in the EG of TN.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change