Myristica swamps, which were once widespread across the Konkan coast, are now a fast-shrinking, fragmented, and endangered ecosystem restricted to small patches found in southern Kerala, Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, Goa, and recently discovered in the northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra.The swamps play a key role in maintaining perennial stream flow and possess higher potential to store carbon than nearby non-swamp forests in the central Western Ghats of Karnataka.They feature two threatened species of trees — Gymnocranthera canarica and Myristica fatua — belonging to the primitive Myristicaceae family.Premium efforts should be given to conservation, say experts, suggesting that forest dwellers and farmers could earn carbon credits for preserving these ancient ecosystems. The low-lying valleys of the evergreen tropical forests of the Western Ghats harbour a rare, ancient ecosystem: the Myristica swamps. Comprised mainly of evergreen trees of the Myristicaceae family—one of the most primitive families of flowering plants renowned for the nutmeg tree species, the swamps are rich in biodiversity and scientists have been discovering new species to this day. With a history going back millions of years—long before the introduction of agriculture—the swamps are believed to have once traversed the entire stretch of the Konkan coast, which extends across the west coast of India. As the duration of the monsoons became shorter, they shrunk in size and over the past few decades they were converted to paddy fields or plantations of areca nut, rubber, coffee or teak. Now, these fragile primeval forests are a fast-disappearing and fragmented habitat confined to small patches—so much so that they are considered among the most endangered ecosystems of India. First reported in 1960 from the Travancore region of Kerala, the primeval swamps are found in the flat, forested valleys of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, Kulathupuzha, and Anchal in the southern Western Ghats of Kerala—consisting of around 60 patches below 1.5 square kilometres (sq km) in area in total. They are also found in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka—around 51 patches covering an area of 0.098 sq km. Additional patches have also been found in the Shimoga and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka by senior scientist T.V. Ramachandra and his team, but they are yet to publish their findings. Until recently, the northernmost distribution of the swamps in the Western Ghats was reported to be from Goa’s sacred grove ‘Nirankarachi Rai’ in Bambar, Sattari taluka. But in 2018, researchers discovered Myristica swamps further up north in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra.