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Monday, 20 August 2012

Wildlife Institute of India dean Vinod B Mathur, the Union government coordinator in the efforts to propose and manage the world natural heritage sites,

'Unesco recognition to W Ghats will not cause relocation'Unesco listing doesn't mean regulation or relocation from WG sites'

TNN | Aug 20, 2012, 03.10AM IST

PUNE: Wildlife Institute of India dean Vinod B Mathur said inscription of the 39 sites in Western Ghats in the UNESCO world heritage sites list will not bring in any new regulation, restriction or lead to relocation of people. The sites will continue to be regulated according to the existing Acts, inducing the Wildlife Protection Act and the Forest Rights Act.

Mathur, the Union government coordinator in the efforts to propose and manage the world natural heritage sites, was in the city to deliver a lecture on 'World natural heritage in Western Ghats: From inscription to action,' organised by TERRE Policy Centre recently. He pointed out that there is misinformation among people that there would be new regulations and relocation of people because of the inscription. In fact, according to the Forest Rights Act, relocation of people is voluntary, he said.

He said there are challenges in protection and management of these 39 sites after inscription. "If not managed well, there are chances that the sites might go in the World heritage danger list. We do not want this to happen to any of the 39 sites in Western Ghats," he said.

Mathur said UNESCO has advised 'responsible tourism' at all these sites. "With the tagging of UNESCO's world heritage sites, there will be an increase in tourism to these sites. For example, we are seeing local tourism at Kas plateau, which may soon change. We'll have to see that there is responsible visitor management. Also, tourists will like to see the aesthetic beauty and experience wilderness. We have to come up with a right kind of tourism model,'' he said.

"The forest department, with the local community, should encourage participatory management, which will involve scientists, scientific organisations and civil society. Inclusive governance would be ideal. Maharashtra can take the lead and come up with a model that can be followed by others too," he said.

He said the idea is to protect natural resources, and explained how the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala has appointed tourist guards who were earlier involved with poachers or were engaged in tree felling activities.

Mathur said that a management plan will be prepared for all the 39 sites. A report on the state of conservation, which will also be a monitoring report, will be prepared by the state and local officers and will be submitted to UNESCO through the union government every two years. For this, data will be collected every year on the diversity and population among others every year, he added.

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