What is a Biodiversity Heritage Site? What is Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act, of 2002? What is the significance of Biodiversity heritage sites (BHS)? Which are the Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS) in India? Read further to know more.
Recently, Arittapatti in Melur block, Madurai district, was designated as a Biodiversity Heritage Site by the Tamil Nadu government (BHS). It is the first biodiversity heritage site in Tamil Nadu and the 35th in all of India.
Other than those voluntarily determined by the local communities, the creation of BHS may not impose any restrictions on the common practises and usages of such communities.
What is a Biodiversity Heritage Site?
Species richness, rare, endemic, and threatened species, keystone species, species of evolutionary significance, wild ancestors of domestic species, etc. are among the characteristics of biodiversity heritage sites (BHS), which are designated areas that are special and ecologically fragile ecosystems.
The biodiversity of these regions, as well as cultural elements like sacred groves and sites, as well as other more extensive community-conserved areas, make them important.
What is Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act, of 2002?
The State Government, in cooperation with local bodies, may designate sites of biological importance as Biodiversity Heritage Sites under the Biological Diversity Act of 2002. (BHS). In general, the community’s use of resources from the proposed BHS is not expected to be restricted in any way.
Per the Biological Diversity Act of 2002’s Section 37
- Areas of importance for biodiversity may be declared BHS by state governments after consulting with “local bodies” and publishing a notice in the official gazette.
- Rules for the administration and preservation of BHS may be developed by the State Government in conjunction with the Central Government.
- State governments can create plans for financially repairing or compensating anyone affected by such notification.
- Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act of 2002 provides an explanation of the significance and goals of BHS.
Through the Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) and other pertinent community institutions, State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) may solicit ideas for the declaration of BHSs.
Significance of Biodiversity heritage sites (BHS)
- Other than those voluntarily determined by the local communities, the creation of BHS may not impose any restrictions on the common practises and usages of such communities.
- The goal is to improve the resident’s quality of life through conservation efforts.
Components of Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS)
The establishment of BHS may not impose any limitations on current procedures and Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS) Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS) are clearly defined areas with distinctive, ecologically vulnerable ecosystems, including marine, terrestrial, and coastal ecosystems, as well as inland and inland waters. They have a rich biodiversity and may include any one or more of the following elements:
Any one or more of the following make up biodiversity:
- Wild and domesticated species, or intra-specific classifications, of species,
- Existence of keystone species, endangered, unusual, and endemic species, as well as species with evolutionary significance
- wild relatives of domesticated/cultivated species, landraces, or variations are present,
fossilised remains of biological components from the past that have aesthetic or cultural significance.
- A region having important cultural, ethical, or aesthetic values that are crucial for preserving a cultural variety
Characteristics of Biodiversity Heritage Sites
Requisites for biodiversity significant sites (BHS) Therefore, areas that meet any of the following criteria may be included in BHS.
- Areas with a mosaic of natural, semi-natural, and artificial habitats that collectively house a wide variety of living things.
- Areas where there is a large amount of domesticated biodiversity present, as well as representative agro-ecosystems where this diversity is sustained by ongoing agricultural practises.
- Important cultural spaces like sacred groves/trees and sites, as well as other sizable community-preserved areas, are regions that are noteworthy from the perspective of biodiversity.
- Locations, even very small ones, include urban green spaces and wetlands that provide wetlands and/or refuge for threatened and indigenous wildlife.
- Any legal land use, whether on public, private, or community land, may be included in the aforementioned categories.
- As much as possible, locations that are not protected by the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, as amended’s network of protected areas, may be taken into consideration.
- Areas where seasonal migrant animals can find aquatic or terrestrial habitats for feeding and nesting.
- Areas that the Forest Department’s research wing maintains as preservation plots.
- Conservation zones for medicinal plants.
First BHS of India
Near 2007, the Nallur Tamarind Grove in Bengaluru, Karnataka, was designated as India’s first Biodiversity Heritage Site.
The Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS) in India are:
1. Nallur Tamarind Grove, Karnataka It is the first BHS in India. It is located in Devanahalli, Bengaluru, Karnataka It is popularly believed to be a relic of the Chola Dynasty that ruled nearly 800 years ago.
2. Hogrekan in Chikmagalur, Karnataka The area has unique Shola vegetation and grassland with several floral species which are unique and have a lot of medicinal value. Hogrekan also serves as a “Wildlife Corridor” between Kudremukha and Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary.
3. University of Agricultural Sciences, Karnataka It is located in GKVK Campus in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
4. Ambaraguda in Shimoga, Karnataka It has Shola vegetation which is primitive vegetation in the Western Ghat and also has grasslands.
5. Glory of Allapalli in Gadhchiroli, Maharashtra
6. Tonglu Biodiversity Heritage Site under the Darjeeling Forest Division, West Bengal
7. Dhotrey Biodiversity Heritage Site under the Darjeeling Forest Division, West Bengal
8. Dailong Village in Tamenglong, Manipur
9. Ameenpur Lake in Sangareddy, Telangana
10. Majuli Island in Assam It is an island situated in the Brahmaputra River which is harboring a unique Ecological and Cultural Heritage.
11. Gharial Rehabilitation Centre in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh It is a centre established for the conservation and rehabilitation of critically endangered species of Gharial.
12. Chilkigarh Kanak Durga Sacred Grove in Jhargram, West Bengal
13. Khlaw Kur Syiem KmieIng, Meghalaya It is a mosaic of natural habitats and significant diversity of life forms. It is also an old Sacred Grove with monoliths and religious spots.
14. Mandasaru, in Kandhamal district, Odisha Mandasaru gorge is an adobe of hundreds of species of plants, animals and fungi.
15. Purvatali Rai Sacred Grove, Goa
16. Naro Hills, in Satna district, Madhya Pradesh
17. Patlakot, Chhindwara district, Madhya Pradesh It represents a terrain of 1700 feet deep valley and ecosystem of the estimated age of 6 Million years and species of rare flora and fauna including rare Bryophytes and Pteridophytes.
18. Asramam, Kollam district, Kerala It hosts a unique diversity of Mangrove species with diverse flora and fauna. Most importantly, the site has the rare and endangered heritage trees of Syzygium travancoricum which is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.
19. Bambarde Myristica Swamps, Dodamarg, Maharashtra
20. Ganeshkhind Garden, Pune, Maharashtra
21. Landorkhori, Jalgaon, Maharashtra
22. Shistura Hiranyakeshi, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
23. Baneswar Shiva Dighi, Coochbehar, West Bengal It offers refuge to Black Softshell Turtles listed under Appendix I of CITES and Critically Endangered under IUCN.
24. Sacred Grove at Sural Bhatori Monastery, Chamba, Himachal Pradesh
25. High Altitude Meadow, Hudan Bhatori, Chamba, Himachal Pradesh Major faunal species in the region: Snow Leopard, Brown Bear, Black Bear, Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Marmot, Ibex and Royle’s Pika.
26. Birch-pine Forest Patch, Nain Gahar, Lahaul & Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
27. Baramura waterfall, Khowai, Tripura The highest natural waterfall in Tripura.
28. Unakoti, Tripura
29. Silachari Caves, Gomati, Tripura Only natural cave of Tripura. Unique habitat for several threatened cave bat species in Tripura.
30. Debbari or Chabimura, Gomati, Tripura Unique habitat for threatened plants of Tripura like Dhup tree and cane resources of India.
31. Betlingshib & its surroundings, North District, Tripura Betlingshib is the highest peak of Tripura on the Jampui Hills, which is famous for its wonderful Orange Festival.
32. Amarkantak, Anuppur, Madhya Pradesh It is situated on the Maikal mountain range which links the Vindhyachal and Satpura mountain ranges. It has unique terrain of a 1700 ft. deep valley and an ecosystem of the estimated age of 6 Million years and species of rare flora & fauna including rare Bryophytes and Pteridophytes. Amarkantak ecological system is the origin of three major rivers – Narmada, Johila and Sone – embarking on further journeys in different directions.
33. Hajong Tortoise Lake, Dima Hasao, Assam This lake is a natural habitat of Critically Endangered freshwater ‘Black Softshell turtles’ and Endangered ‘Indian Peacock Softshell turtles.’ This site also harbours threatened species like Critically Endangered Chinese Pangolin, etc.
34. Borjuli Wild Rice Site, Sonitpur, Assam This BHS has a good population of wild species of rice -Oryza rufipogon. Oryza rufipogon is the progenitor of present-day cultivated rice, O. sativa.
35. Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage Site, Madurai, Tamil Nadu This BHS has rich biological and historical significance with the presence of around 250 bird species including 3 flagship Raptor species – Laggar Falcon, Shaheen Falcon, Bonelli’s Eagle and wildlife like Indan Pangolin, Python and Slender Loris.
Other than those voluntarily determined by the local communities, the creation of BHS may not impose any restrictions on the common practises and usages of such communities. The goal is to improve the resident’s quality of life through conservation efforts.
Article written by Aseem Muhammed