The Elephant Valley Eco-tourism project,an initiative of the Sathyamangalam Forest Division, is a unique venture and the first of its kind within a territorial division. 30.8% of the forests in India come under the protected areas and 51.6% remain within the jurisdiction of the Forest Divisions as Reserve Forests under territorial divisions. Sathyamangalam has 1455.31sq.km. of forests within its boundaries. The Elephant Valley Interpretation Centre portrays images and information which speak about this bountiful region, its natural heritage, geography and people.
This building was built in 1973 and referred to as the ‘Tool Shed’ since it was used as a shed for maintenance and repair of the coupe vehicles of the forest division. Fuel wood coupes were stopped in 1975, further to which selection felling was stopped in 1980, after which the ‘Tool Shed’ was utilised as a storehouse for forest produce that were procured by the LAMPS Society. It later came to be used by the Special Task Force during their combing operations in the Sathyamanagalam forests. After the operations were discontinued the ‘Tool Shed’ was abandoned.
It is with the co-operation and understanding of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, Sathyamangalam division that this center has been revitalised as an interpretation centre. Keystone Foundation, a Trust working in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve on issues related to forests and indigenous people, has designed and installed the information. Thumbithakadu, a value addition centre located at Hasanur has come forward to renovate the building and run an eco-shop and café. Funds for the renovation of the centre were also made available from the Village Forest Council of Gedessal. The Interpretation Centre will be managed and maintained by the Village Forest Council of Gedessal. The revenue generated from the Centre will be utilized for conservation activities undertaken by the Village Forest Councils.