WPSI seeks action against forest offenders

It seeks curbs on unauthorised trekking and forest camps

The Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) has demanded that stringent legal action be initiated against forest offenders in the State, including those trespassing into the forest areas for adventure.

In a memorandum addressed to the Forest authorities, WPSI South India coordinator S. Guruvayurappan on Thursday demanded that restrictions be imposed on unauthorised trekking and forest camps taking place in the name of tourism.

He pointed out that illegal hiking and camps in forest areas were being organised in several places by YouTubers and Facebook and WhatsApp collectives. “Social media activism has led to an increase in illegal adventure tourism in forest areas,” said Mr. Guruvayurappan.

He said apart from the dangers involved, people taking part in such gatherings were leaving waste, including plastic bottles, in the forests. “We have enough reports to substantiate that such waste material left behind by the people was posing harm to the forest ecosystem as well as the wildlife,” he said.

The WPSI demanded that the Forest department strengthen its surveillance and conduct periodic raids in forests to prevent illegal camping and trespass. It also demanded that site-specific micro plans be made and eco-development committees and Vana Samrakshana Samitis be involved in the prevention of trespass.

“All forest fringes should have Vana Samrakshana Samitis or eco-development committees soon. It will help not only to prevent trespass, but also to uplift those living in the forests,” he said.

Mr. Guruvayurappan said it was a not a mere case of R. Babu, the youngster who was rescued by the Indian Army after he was caught in a crevice while illegally climbing the Cherad Hill at Malampuzha. “This incident should send home the larger message that entering into forest areas, including hills and mounts, without permission is an offence,” he said.

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