Prelims cum Mains

Western Ghats bags fourth best tourist spot in Lonely Planet’s best Asia destinations list

The News

  • The Western Ghats has figured in Lonely Planet’s top five “2018 Best in Asia” list, a collection of 10 of the best destinations to visit in the continent for the year.

Key Highlights

  • The Western Ghats has come fourth in the Lonely Planet’s top five “2018 Best in Asia” list.
  • Western Ghats is one of the Hottest Biodiversity Hotspots and UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • The report also mentions Neelakurinji flower, which blooms only once every 12 years in Munnar.
  • The panel of travel experts has named Busan, South Korea as its top pick with Uzbekistan bagging the second place, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam at third. India’s Western Ghats came fourth in the list.
  • Nagasaki, Japan, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Lumbini, Nepal, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka, Sìchuan Province, China and Komodo National Park, Indonesia are the destinations listed after Western Ghats.

About Western Ghats

  • The Western Ghats extend along the West Coast of India covering area of 150,000 square kilometres.
  • It is a UNESCO world Heritage site.
  • It is one of the hottest hotspots of biological diversity.
  • The significance of Western Ghats is that along with its rich biodiversity, it also supports a rich environment dependent civilisation of several thousand years.
  • The total area is less than 6% of the land area of India, but contains more than 30% of all plant, fish, fauna, bird, mammal species found in India.
  • It has high proportion of endemic species and supports the life of 7,402 species of flowering plants, 1814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6000 insects species and 290 freshwater fish species.
  • The Western Ghats contain numerous medicinal plants and important genetic resources. It is home to diverse social, religious and linguistic groups.
  • Western Ghats perform important hydrological and watershed functions.
  • States covering Western Ghats include Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • The largest proportion 45% of the area protected with the Western Ghats lies within 19 protected areas in the State of Karnataka.
  • There are four major forest types in Western Ghats:-
  1. Evergreen
  2. Semi- evergreen.
  3. Moist deciduous.
  4. Dry deciduous

Biodiversity hotspots

  • Areas which exhibit high species richness as well as high species endemism are called hotspots of biodiversity.
  • These hotspots cover less than 2% of the world’s land and are found to have about 50% of the terrestrial biodiversity.
  • There are 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world.
  • Hotspots contain about 40% of terrestrial plants and 25% of Vertebrate species which are endemic.
  • After the tropical rainforests, the second-highest number of endemic plant species is found in the Mediterranean.
  • Broadly the hotspots are found in Western Amazon, Madagascar, North and East Borneo, North-Eastern Australia, Phillippines, Sundaland, Caribbean, Indo-Burma, Western Ghats/SriLanka West Africa and Brazilian & Atlantic Forest).
  • More than 1 billion people most of whom are poor live in these areas.

Criteria for Hotspots of Biodiversity

  • To qualify as biodiversity hotspot, region must meet two strict criteria: –
  1. The region should contain at least 1500 species of vascular plants (>0.5% of the world’s total) as endemics.
  2. It should have lost atleast 70% of its original habitat.

Biodiversity hotspots in India

  • There are 34 hotspots of biodiversity in the world.
  • Out of these three of the hotspots lie in India extending into neighbouring countries.
  • They are
  1. Indo-Burma Hotspot
  2. Eastern Himalayan Hotspot
  3. Western Ghats-Sri Lanka Hotspot
  • Indian hotspots are rich in both floral wealth and endemic species of plants, reptiles, amphibians, swallowtail butterflies and some mammals

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