Ecological Restoration of Panchgani tableland

Satara District, Maharashtra

Key details

About the project

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Key species


Ecological Restoration of Panchgani tableland

Satara District, Maharashtra

Key details

Aim of the restoration project

To restore biodiversity and ecological process of Panchgani tableland, a lateritic plateau which is legally protected as Natural Heritage Site and Conservation Zone of Maharashtra State

What was the condition of the land before restoration? And what are the past and current disturbances?

The area was rapidly losing its ecological and biodiversity values due to unrestricted and exploitative tourism, associated growth of illegal commercial recreation activities and neglect of various legal provisions to protect the area. As an outcrop, it has highly sensitive and fragile microhabitats, with thin soil layer, which support unique ephemeral endemic plant communities and fauna typical of high altitude ephemeral wetlands. Trampling and illegal use of heavy vehicles was eroding the microhabitats and slowly converting the plateau to barren wasteland devoid critical vegetation cover. Only a small area still retained the unique endemic plants, lichen and moss species, while fauna had reduced severely. The local authorities which own the plateau were unaware of the importance and the special features and hence did not follow any special management practice for the tableland.

What are the restoration activities that were/are being carried out?

A long legal process initiated by the Bombay Environmental Action Group from 2001 led to various pro-active orders from High Court and Supreme Court which upheld the conservation actions. Since then, redesigning of tourist movement is ongoing and led to reduced trampling and disturbance of the soil. Local guides are engaged in environmental sensitization and zoning of the area is done for ensuring conservation, active restoration and sustainable use zones. Monitoring is continuous from 2012 for vegetation recovery. Other actions such as recreation of lost microhabitats, seed dispersal will follow.

Area of the project

100 acres


Satara District, Maharashtra


1280-1320 m

Annual rainfall



1°C to 35°C

About the project

The Asia Plateau or Panchgani tableland located in Panchgani hill station, is a famous tourist spot in Satara District of Northern Western Ghats. It is included in the Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani Ecosensitive Zone as a Conservation Zones and a Natural Heritage Site. Geology, geomorphology, flora and fauna of Panchgani tableland has been studied for more than a century. It was a popular summer tourism spot since British period. A number of hill streams originate from the plateau in monsoon and it has 2 perennial ponds. Additionally several small ephemeral pools form during monsoon on all the plateaus.

The Panchgani tableland has been floristically explored by the botanists for more than a century. It is type locality of six flowering plants (of which one is presumable extinct locally) and 2 freshwater fern species (Isoetes sp.) all of which are endemic to Western Ghats. It is also type locality of a freshwater Ostracode (an invertebrate), but its present status at the locality is unknown. It is also type locality of one lichen species and has around 20 lichen and moss species, of which many are Western Ghat endemic. 47 endemic species angiosperms and ferns are seen here of which 12 are rare and threatened. Malabar Lark an endemic bird is seen on the plateau. A grass, Dichanthium panchganiensis, an orchid Habenaria panchganiensis, a succulent Euporbia panchganiensis and lichen Diorygma panchganiensis have been named after Panchgani. It has two underground caves which are roosting place for bats.

Tourism took a severe toll on this plateau mainly due to its commercial, unplanned nature. Large parts of plateau were trampled, drove upon and lost the fragile vegetation cover. However, tourism is the main livelihood activity of this region and provides large revenue to local communities as well as Panchgani Municipal Council. Hence any activity of biodiversity and ecological protection has to be planned taking tourism into consideration.

Bombay Environmental Action Group provided the legal support in terms of various court orders that ensured the laws and policies for eco-sensitive zone and conservation zone are accepted by all the stakeholders and implemented on ground. At the same time consistent dialogue with local tourism entrepreneurs, Panchgani Council officers and tourists ensured that all are aware and proud of the natural values of the locality.

Scientific monitoring through student volunteers provided baseline data for conservation planning of this unique and challenging habitat. The area is divided into 3 zones- conservation zone, restoration zone and sustainable tourism zone with specific actions planned for ensuring survival of biodiversity in all zones. Indicators are identified in flora and fauna and a matrix is developed to ensure reduction in environmental impacts and gain of ecological values. The benchmark for the action project are historical records of past botanical inventories of the region, as there is no other comparable plateau in the region at present.

It is an evolving study which will inform policy regarding restoration and management of special rock outcrop habitats in the region.


Get in touch

Team: Aparna Vidyadhar Watve
Adv Hema Ramani, Bombay Environmental Action Group; Kaustubh Moghe, Sylvan, Dr. Ankur Patwardhan, Biodiversity dpt Abasaheb Garware College Pune.
Address: Biome Conservation Foundation, 34/6 Gulawani Maharaj Road, Pune 411004
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