Shri K. Raju, Hon’ble Minister for Forests, Animal

Husbandry, Dairy Development and Zoos,

Shri Kadakampally Surendran, Hon’ble Minister for Co-operation,

Tourism and Devaswom,

Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament,

Shri V.S. Sivakumar, Member of Legislative Assembly,

Shri P.K. Kesavan IFS, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and

Head of Forest Office,

Shri Surendra Kumar IFS, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests

and Chief Wildlife Warden,

प्रियसहोदरीसहोदरनमारे[Priya Sahodaree Sahodaranmare],

ल्लारकुमएन्टेनमस्कारम. [Ellavarkkum Ente Namaskaram].






It gives me great joy to address this valedictory meeting of the Wildlife Week Celebrations, organized by Department of Forests, Government of Kerala.

Let me begin by congratulating the Department of Forests on its success in popularizing the need for protection of Nature and wildlife among all sections of people. The Department has also focused on the younger generation for creating this awareness, considering Kerala’s preeminence as a State which has the strongest foundations of education, especially at the school level.

I also congratulate all those who have won prizes in various competitions held as part of the Wildlife Week Celebrations. The people behind the publication of the magazine, Aranyakam also deserve appreciation.

As we are aware, our celebration of Wildlife Weeksince 1952, evolved from the recommendation of the Indian Board for Wildlife, to commemorate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, by dedicating the days from the 2nd to 8th of October every year for conservation activities.

Gandhiji, who believed that the ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed’, had preached and practiced nonviolence and compassion to all beings in the world.  His life epitomized several noble values, including conservation of Nature and simple and sustainable living.

The Gandhian concept of sustainable living also reflects in the Sustainable Development Goals announced by the United Nations. The protection of Nature and our ecosystem forms the essence of these 17 goals which include No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health, Quality Education, Gender Equality etc. The globally rising awareness about the need to reduce the exploitation of resources, is indeed, a relief.

For us, the conservation of our nature and wildlife is also a Constitutional Duty. Imbibing this spirit of our Constitution and following a lifestyle which is guided by a genuine concern for nature, would provide solutions to many of the environmental issues of today.  It was only last week that
I had noticed a news report which pointed to over 12 lakh hectares of forest land in India being encroached. It cited that 7801 hectares were encroached in Kerala also.

To know the magnitude of the effects of such encroachments, we should be aware of the global picture. Over 29% of the total land worldwide is covered by the forests. These forests have over 60,000 tree species which are rich resources of food, fuel, fodder, essential oils, medicines etc., for millions of people all over the world.

But, unfortunately, our world suffers a loss of millions of acres of forests every year. When a forest is destroyed, it is not just the trees that are lost; the inhabitant animal species in the forest also get displaced. Deforestation can cause severe imbalances in the   natural climate, leading to major environmental issues.

As per the India State of Forest Report, 2017 (ISFR 2017) published by the Central Government, India is ranked 10th in the world in terms of forest area, with 24.4% of land area under forest and tree cover. India accounts for 2.4% of the world surface area and sustains the needs of 17% of human and 18% livestock population in the world. The Report, however, shows an increase of 8,021 sq km (about 80.20 million hectare) in the total forest and tree cover of the country, compared to the previous assessment in 2015.

This is a good sign and in Kerala, over the past few years, we have recorded a slight increase in the forest cover, which is almost 29 per cent of the geographical area of the State. Yet, the damage done in earlier years is already playing havoc with our climate.

One of the matters which made the entire State happy recently, was the high score gained by the Periyar Tiger Reservein the Report on the Status of Tigers in India, released in 2018.  While Kerala’s conservation efforts have helped the tiger population to grow, there are States like Odisha, which had recently seen a steep fall in the number of tigers in ten years. 

I am happy that the efforts of the Forest Department towards forest and wildlife conservation are being continued and expanded to activities like captive elephant welfare and management, coastal and marine biodiversity conservation, protection of sacred groves, tree planting in public and private lands and educational and awareness campaigns.

Kerala's encouragement of the rehabilitation of elephants, setting of Miyawaki forests in urban areas and promotion of mangrove conservation initiatives deserve appreciation.

The wildlife week celebrations should also make us think of handling incidents of conflict between humans and wildlife.  Such conflicts may be the result of our lopsided models of development, but we are duty-bound to protect people and their properties against such dangers.  I am glad that the Forest Department is exploring options to prevent and mitigate such conflicts through structural barriers like Solar Power Fence, Elephant Proof Trenches, Walls etc. and by providing early Warning Systems.

However, creating better awareness is the most essential step in handling such issues.  And, awareness must start from the school and grassroots levels. The most important thing is an awareness about the value of our natural resources and the need to conserve them.

Let the creation of that awareness be the aim of every activity carried out as part of Wildlife Week celebrations.

Moreover, let us take this spirit of conservation forward throughout the year, because, conservation of Nature is essential in every moment of our lives.

I wish everyone the large heartedness to think and act on these lines so that Kerala and India enhance their natural beauty and become true heavens on Earth.

I compliment the Department of Forest for organizing this programme in a befitting manner.


लोका: समस्ता: सुखिनो भवन्तु

[Lokah: Samasta: Sukhino Bhavantu]

Valare Nanni

Jai Hind