Home to more wild tigers and elephants than anywhere else on the planet, the 42,000sq.km. of forest cover in the state of Karnataka is one of most biodiversity-rich spaces in India. From the sky islands of the Western Ghats which house endemic species that are found nowhere else in the world to the intricate mangrove forests along its coastline, south India’s largest state is endowed with a variety of landscapes. And, to preserve and protect these massive ecological niches, it demands a taskforce of frontline workers who are willing to dedicate their lives to the cause.
Forests is a beautiful hardbound coffee table book produced by the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) that focuses on the lives of its frontline workers. The book is dedicated to the martyrs, former and current workers of the department who toil assiduously to preserve and protect the natural abundance of Karnataka.
Authored by Vijay Mohan Raj IFS, the book has impeccable and unique design elements and showcases some of the best photographs of the staff at work in various forest landscapes of Karnataka. There are over 200 high-resolution images by award-winning photographers in the book, which were specially commissioned by KFD to ensure continuity in visual aesthetics and appeal. The narrative weaves through stunning photographs laid out in a fluid manner, beginning with the rich history of Karnataka’s forests and conservation, right from the days of the Maharajas of Mysore. Through attractive double-spread images of the geography of Karnataka and the diversity of its flora, fauna and indigenous communities that live in and around forests, the book celebrates the rich natural heritage of the state.
For long, Karnataka’s forest department has been the torchbearer for setting higher and better standards in wildlife conservation and protection around the country. The book aims to provide the public at large a better understanding of the lives and the daily challenges of the staff of KFD, and the money generated will go towards supporting the conservation efforts of the department. The book is available for purchase online.
Here is an excerpt from the book which expands on the pivotal role the department plays in preserving the state’s rich biodiversity.
Far from sticking to the dictionary meaning of ‘forests', the Karnataka Forest Department plays a pivotal role in the conservation of many ecological niches. This role of conserving areas which do not fall under the mainstream definition of forests, have not only ensured the sustenance of endemic species but have also become the rallying point for the conservation of wilderness spaces. These spaces are conserved, not just for the produce they yield but also the intrinsic quality of the landscape that aids the survival of agriculture and other allied activities beneficial to man and wildlife. This is a fundamental change in approach applied by the KFD to manage this common land – in treating landscapes to stay true to their intended climatic conditions, as bestowed to it by nature.