The Western Ghats, is a
mountain range that runs along the western side of India.
It runs, about 1600 kms, North to South, along the western edge of the Deccan
It is one of the eight hottest hotspots of
biological diversity in the world.
It originates near the border of Gujarat and
Maharashtra, and runs through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil
Nadu and Kerala, finally ending at Kanyakumari.
These hills cover a total area of 160,000 square kms.
The average elevation is about 1,200 m (3,900 ft).
The region is home to over 5000 species of flowering
plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species.
It is also reported that the Western Ghats is home
to at least 84 amphibian species, 16 bird species, seven mammals, and 1,600
flowering plants which are not found elsewhere in the world.
There are numerous protected areas designated by the
Government of India in the Western Ghats. They include two bio reserves and
thirteen National Parks.
The Nilagiri Biosphere
Reserve that comprises 5500 square kms of evergreen
and deciduous forests forms an important part of the Western Ghats.
The Silent Valley National Park in Kerala, which
forms part of the Western Ghats, is one among the last tracts of virgin
tropical evergreen forest in India.
In August, 2011, the Western Ghats Ecology Expert
Panel (WGEEP) designated the entire Western Ghats as an Ecologically Sensitive
Area (ESA). The panel also assigned three levels of ecological sensitivity to
its different regions.
In 2012, thirty nine places in the Western Ghats
region have been declared as World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO.
*Assistant Director, PIB,