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Threats to the ecosystem of the Western Ghats in India

The Western Ghats of India is facing severe threats to its ecosystem. In the period between 1920 to 1990, 40 percent of its natural vegetation was depleted. This is coupled with dangers arising from encroachments. The rise in human settlements has led to the over-exploitation of forest products through activities such as livestock grazing. The mining establishments, especially iron-ore mining, have greatly contributed to damaging the ecological balance, by destroying farms, polluting rivers and damaging the top soil. Pollution is also playing its part, with high mercury levels in the water, and agrochemicals from tea and coffee plantations going unchecked. Unilever’s thermometer plant is a major culprit in adding to the dissemination of pollutants in the Western Ghats. A scientist working in the area, R. Umashankar has also identified a drop in the genetic variability of plants, decreasing their natural resistance to diseases.

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