A note on the significance of rock sites and the associated biodiversity
- A novel approach by the Society to Save Rocks

By: Prof. R. Pavanaguru
Emeritus Professor
Geology Department
Osmania University

Our planet is dynamic and the interactions of lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere producing the geometrical architecture is the reminder of lively and special environment we inhabit from the geological past.

The niceties of the complex features of rock formations and the nature of rocks are marvellous-a science in itself. The dwellers among these abiotic systems are utilising the abnormal carvings and help to sustain the equilibrium of the ecosystem. It is to reiterate that Society to Save Rocks' is belted to locate and protect these architectural forms that have developed as a response to rock deformation and denudation.

Land forms are the geomorphic expressions carved out by nature adhering to the geometric patterns of the rock formations of the earth.(Strahler 1982). The peninsular India which hosts the Deccan plateau is consisting of picturesque land features which have become the sites of biotic life. These rocks are also called as 'unclassified' crystallines due to the non-availability of adequate isotope age data. However, they were assigned 2500 million years of age in Indian stratigraphy.. The holistic study of these forms with various geoscientific inputs particularly in parts of Medak, Ranga Reddy and Mahabubnagar districts of Andhra Pradesh carried out by the Society to Save Rocks has contributed to the ideas on the identification and development of centers of educational, recreational and cultural heritage and associated biodiversity.

Land forms and biodiversity:

Geoscientific features of the landforms were investigated and highlighted by the society to save rocks (Pavanaguru & Vasudeva Rao) in Medak district. The structurally weak planes have produced distinct geomorphic features and are also the potential zones of water bearing horizons. The joint system particularly the vertical and horizontal jointing in granites and the later erosional features have resulted in the present day forms which are not only aesthetic but also harboring important fauna and flora

In Medak district, the area exhibits bouldery and rolling topography. The weathered outcrops yield certain aesthetic forms such as residual hills that include tors and boulders, valley fills, linear dykes, hogbacks and pediment that not only attract the attention of the people but also became the roosting sites of the dwelling fauna and flora.(Pavanaguru 2000)

No comprehensive studies were so far made on the evaluation of geo-environmental issues and the associated biodiversity and its bearing on the ecology. The importance of landforms as potential sites for environmental protection and conservation of biodiversity in parts of Medak district has been carried out. In this process, over 12000 Sq.Km. area was covered and selected 13 sites comprising distinct geologically controlled landforms with evaluation of the associated fauna and flora, which are both characteristic and abundant was done.

The area is open land with agricultural tracts and open waste interrupted by open scrub and dry deciduous forest. The floral diversity is represented 175 species of scrub, woody and seasonal herbs and shrubs. These sites are also well represented by both common and rare herbal medicinal plants. The floristic elements accompanied by rock formations are recorded.

The macro-faunal diversity is classified as herpetilians (including amphibia and reptiles), the aves and mammals. The aves were represented by 204 species with 17 orders and 49 families, while the mammals were represented by 40 species with 21 families and 6 orders. The amphibia and reptilia consists of 27 species representing 14 families and belonging to 4 orders. All the fauna predominantly utilize these rock sites for various day to day activities.

To mention a few, the best such sites are recorded are at Medak, Rangareddy and Mahbubunagar district were studied.. The significant major structural controls are recorded along NNEE-SSW, NNW-SSE, N-S trending joint sets.

Ripley (1982) recorded a variety of birds (2094) belonging to 1200 species and 400 genera from the Indian subcontinent including India. Of these 318 species belonging to 146 genera are found in Indian wet lands (Vijayan, 1987). In the state of Andhra Pradesh about 450 species representing 58 families were recorded (Taher & Pittie 1989). Other Ave fauna studies in the state have been carried out( Ali 1933 a, Majumdar 1981, Abdul Ali & Mathew 1962 and Ripley 1988 a). All these studies are mainly restricted to coastal regions as well as forest tracts (Vasudeva Rao et. al. 1996 & Nagulu et. al. 1987). But no studies have been made in detail on rock sites and their associated habitat. Hence, in the present study, supported by the Society to Save Rocks, an attempt has been made to evaluate systematic list of macro fauna and flora in parts of Medak district of Andhra Pradesh where the unclassified crystallines are well exposed.

Heritage Rocks Of Hyderabad

Hyderabad, a part of Deccan plateau, in peninsular India mostly comprises hard crystalline rocks, known popularly as Granites. Due to the paucity of age data (geological data) they are known as unclassified crystalline rocks. However, the relative position of the granites and associated rocks and their chronological studies in Indian stratigraphy suggests an age of about 2500 million years.

These rock formations have been weathering since millions of years to produce geomorphic expressions that we observe on the surface producing rockytecture. These expressions of the rocks constitute the physiography of the area. Although they are abiotic systems, they support biotic systems in the available abnormal and attractive carvings and help to sustain the equilibrium of the ecosystem.

The picturesque rocky hillocks of Hyderabad and the surrounding environs were subjected to intense urbanisation and have produced a telling blow on the environment of the living biota and non-living rocks as they have inter-related biodiversity sustenance systems.

Banjara and Jubilee hills are the latest testimony to urbanization activity that left the bio-geo-in-equilibrium in these surrounding areas. Although government is taking care of the some of the monuments of historical importance, the adjoining areas were subjected to severe anthropogenic activities including quarrying.

There are number of locations that call for attention of the planners of the urban development in their conservation and protection programmes in Hyderabad. Mention may be made on:
  1. Fort Golconda and the adjoining environs
  2. Naubat Pahad
  3. Kalapahad
  4. Adjoining areas of Falaknuma palace
  5. Mahendra Hills (indiscriminate cutting and quarrying for urbanization)
  6. Banjara Hills Road No. 12,
  7. Jubilee Hills - Prashashan Nagar, Road No. 45.
  8. Dargah Kohe Imam -e-Zamin with adjoining quarries,
  9. Gunrock quarries
  10. Yusufguda - Sivaji-ka-Mandir
  11. Chandrayanagutta
  12. Banjara Bhavan
Few rock formations have been protected by the Govt. under HUDA heritage regulations. However, there is a need to conserve the environment for sustenance and survival of the biodiversity associated with them and makes use of them by drawing purposeful plans for the civilization which is crying hoarse on "climate change"

The Findings:
  1. Landforms, the geomorphic expressions, are the part of rock-scape and are potential sustainable sites of biodiversity.
  2. The floristic-faunal elements and medicinal plants, invariably associated with the rock sites were recorded and suggested for protection.
  3. Anthropogenic activities involving indiscriminate exploitation (Quarrying etc) of rock sites is creating loss of habitat for rock dwelling species and entail destruction of associated medicinal plants causing fragmentation of the habitat affecting the bio-diversity.
  4. Varieties of Rocks occur in nature. Although Rocks are abiotic they support Ecosystems
  5. Telangana area which includes the Deccan plateau possess quite a number of sacred rock sites that sustain ecological equilibrium through religious, social beliefs and sentiments.
  6. To develop these areas as centers of educational, recreational and cultural heritage, it is necessary to collect all base line hidden scientific information for the sustenance of the sites. It is necessary to create awareness among the concerned with a need to conserve and protect for eco-balance.
  7. An environmental awareness programme should be promoted among locals to protect the aesthetic grandeur of the sites and help to restore the ecological equilibrium.
  8. An environmental awareness programme which highlights the biodiversity of the sites is the need of the hour. These programmes should be promoted to protect the aesthetic grandeur of the sites and help to restore the ecological heritage.
  9. Provision for involvement of government and non-governmental organisations to develop an environmental database may be made to promote the concept of ecotourism for the social upliftment of the inhabitants.


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