The Western Ghats are internationally recognized as a region of immense global importance for the conservation of biological diversity, besides having areas of high geological, cultural and aesthetic values. The ecosystems of the Western Ghats include the tropical wet evergreen forests, the montane evergreen forests, moist deciduous forests, etc. There are over 4,000 species of angiosperms (1500 endemic), 332 species of butterflies (37 endemic), 288 species of fishes (116 endemic), 156 species of amphibians (94 endemic), 225 species of Reptiles (97 endemic), 508 species of birds (19 endemic) and 137 species of mammals (14 endemic) reported from Western Ghats.
The Government of India has taken several steps to conserve the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats. A large number of protected areas comprising national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves and elephant reserves have been established to provide stringent protection to both flora and fauna. Nearly 10% of the total area of Western Ghats is currently covered under the Protected Area category. The largest Protected Area in Western Ghats is the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka. The Silent Valley National Park in Kerala and the Kudremukh National Park in Karnataka are among the important tracts of virgin tropical evergreen forests in India, serving as the home to a healthy population of the globally threatened fauna.
The Western Ghats are important from the standpoint of biodiversity conservation. For the purpose of ensuring protection of biodiversity of Western Ghats, there are some restrictions for setting up of industries in certain ecologically significant areas of Western Ghats, for example, there is a moratorium upto 31st December 2012 for consideration of projects from Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri areas of Maharashtra, and for consideration of mining projects in Goa. There is also a ban on consideration of mining projects in some districts of Karnataka in compliance of Supreme Court Orders dated 29 July, 2011 and 26 August, 2011.
The above information was laid in the Parliament by Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests Shrimati Jayanthi Natarajan.