The Palni Hills Conservation Council was formed in 1985 as an organization devoted to promoting sustainable development. The core group consists of ecologists, environmentalists, botanists, wildlife enthusiasts and proponents of sustainable development with sixty supporting staff ranging from beekeepers to water chemists.
The Palni Hills is basically the Eastern spur of the Western Ghats mountain range in the South Indian State of Tamilnadu. The forests of the hills vary from dry deciduous to wet temperate zones. The hills start at 280 Mts. above sea level and raise up to 2300 Mts.
The Palni Hills Conservation Council has worked in many of the villages in these hills over the past 25 years, mainly on forestry and apiculture projects, and is familiar with the communities and the issues pertaining to conservation. The maintenance of nurseries at different altitudes, comprising about 100 native species, have been the mainstay of the PHCC for several years; planting and restoration of many patches of degraded forests have resulted from these efforts.
In the past the PHCC has been an activist group, taking up campaigns against unsustainable tourism, monitoring water pollution and mercury waste from entering the ecosystem. Most of the work was at the forest edge to grow native trees on farmlands; local communities allowed degraded forests to recover and could satisfy their needs through the 12 million tree-seedlings raised so far.
It has taken more than two decades to convince the Forest Department that alternatives to mainstream exploitation of natural resources are sustainable and practicable by community involvement. The state owns more than half the land in the Palni Hills and the beneficiaries/stakeholders have access to the rest. 25 years ago local communities were unaware of their right to a clean environment and let the few staff of the Forest Department decide how their forests were managed and led to about 40,000 ha of monoculture plantation in the Upper Hills!
PHCC hopes to form a new consciousness of the people and prevent such mistakes in the Middle Hills. The PHCC promotes community participation in forest governance and provide a platform to voice their concerns about the ecosystem in the neighbourhood.