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Gupteswar Forest in Odisha Declared as Biodiversity Heritage



  Feb 14, 2024

Gupteswar Forest in Odisha Declared as Biodiversity Heritage Site



The Gupteswar Forest, located adjacent to the Gupteswar Shiva temple in Koraput district of Odisha, has been officially declared as a Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS) by the Odisha state government , making it the fourth such site in the state. This declaration is aimed at preserving the forest’s rich biodiversity and enhancing the cultural connection between the local communities and their natural heritage.

Key Highlights:

Area and Importance: The designated BHS spans over 350 hectares, encompassing sacred groves that are traditionally revered by the local community. This area is home to a wide array of flora and fauna, emphasizing its ecological significance.

Rich Biodiversity: A comprehensive biodiversity inventory and survey conducted by the Odisha Biodiversity Board revealed the presence of at least 608 faunal species within the site. This includes 28 species of mammals, 188 species of birds, 18 species of amphibians, 48 species of reptiles, 45 species of fishes, and various species of butterflies, moths, odonates, spiders, scorpions, and lower invertebrates.

Notable Species: The forest is a habitat for significant species such as the mugger crocodile, kanger valley rock gecko, sacred Grove Bush Frog, and various avifauna including the black baza, Jerdon’s baza, Malabar trogon, common hill myna, white-bellied woodpecker, and banded bay cuckoo. The limestone caves in Gupteswar host eight species of bats, two of which are listed as near-threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Floral Diversity: Gupteswar boasts 182 species of trees, 76 species of shrubs, 177 species of herbs, 69 species of climbers, 14 species of orchids, and numerous threatened medicinal plants. This diversity underscores the ecological wealth and the critical importance of conserving such habitats.

Conservation and Development: The Odisha state government has instructed the Odisha Biodiversity Board to develop a long-term plan for the intensive conservation and sustainable development of BHS through the active involvement of local communities. An initial fund of Rs 35 lakh has been allocated for creating an action plan and raising awareness among the local populations.

Community and Economic Benefits: The declaration of Gupteswar as a BHS is expected to bolster eco-tourism and the collection of minor forest produce, thereby contributing to the livelihoods of local people. The involvement of local communities in conservation efforts is anticipated to foster a sense of ownership and responsibility towards preserving their natural heritage.

This initiative not only highlights the ecological richness of the Gupteswar forest but also sets a precedent for conservation efforts that integrate cultural values and community participation, aiming for a harmonious balance between biodiversity preservation and sustainable development.

SRIRAM’s


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