The rich, bio-diverse forests of the Western Ghats once offered local inhabitants an economic livelihood and a sustainable food source. Forest produce and the variety of naturally occurring food options meant that there was less pressure on growing pulses and cereals, leaving local farmers the options to cultivate diverse crops in different seasons. The rich forest was also soil nutrient supplier to the farmer through naturally composting organic material, thus there was no need of chemical fertiliser. However, an unfortunate decision to permit industries to grow foreign tree species (Acacia and Eucalyptus) in the forested areas of the Western Ghats destroyed the age-old bio-diversity and impacted regional agrarian practices. Such decisions were made to serve the needs of a growing urban consumer base but they never contributed to the needs of the local rural economy or the demands of local farming processes. Once the rich forest was gone, the region lost its sustainable, ecological backbone. Agriculture practices turned toward economically (rather than ecologically) sustainable alternatives that subsequently saw the introduction of cash crops and increased migration to urban areas.
SARA Centre Biodiversity Archive
Since 2012 the Centre has been developing a biodiversity archive on the site that currently houses nearly 500 species of plants.
The purpose of developing this living archive is to reclaim and make available the lost knowledge of indigenous flora amongst the local farming community. This archive will demonstrate how crucial it is for people to realign with the ecological system to ensure our future, sustainable survival.