the Kerala Forest Research Institute ( kfri ) has decided to launch an ambitious project to prepare an atlas of forests in the state using remote-sensing satellites. It is said to be the first project of its kind in the country. The project envisages to prepare range-wise information at 1:25,000 scale, said A R Menon, principal investigator of the scheme. Four to five ranges form a division, and according to a rough estimate, there are about 40 ranges in the state. According to Menon, kfri has already begun a case study in the Machar range, spreading over an area of 60 sq km, with a Rs 2 lakh aid from the forest department. Once the project is completed, details about themes like vegetation, drainage and communications will be collected with a view to supplement information on other geographic features. Degradation threats faced by plant species, especially in certain parts of forest, will be specially monitored. "The atlas will eventually help adoption of possible safeguards against further degradation of forests," Menon said. Presently, it is difficult to monitor biological status due to unfriendly terrain, added Menon.
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