Bhubaneswar, March 20 (LocalWire): The Odisha government has declared the picturesque Mandasaru Valley, home to rare flora and fauna, in Kandhamal district as the state’s first “biodiversity heritage site”, an official said on Tuesday.
Mandasaru has now become the 13th such sites to be notified in the country. In the recent past, several other states, including Kerala, Maharashtra and Telangana, had similar sites.
Mandasaru is a small hillock near Raikia in Kandhamal district and home to a number of medicinal plants.
P.K. Dash, a scientist at the Odisha Biodiversity Board, said that the hillock, spread over 528 hectares, is home to 1,563 species of plants and animals, and six perennial streams.
Forest officials said that once the heritage tag (BHS) is bestowed, the local body will get a revenue share from entities using biodiversity resources for commercial purposes. Collection of plants, animals and microbes will be regulated and locals will be involved in its conservation.
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002, empowers the state government to notify areas of biodiversity importance. “We have also received applications for five other sites, including Khandadhar in Sundargarh district and Chandragiri in Gajapati district,” said a forest official.
The Odisha Biodiversity Board was set up in 2009 for documentation of biological resources, their conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits of the rich biodiversity.
“The creation of BHS will not restrict the local community from the prevailing practices and usages of the local communities. The Biodiversity Management Committee formed by the local community will take care of the management of BHS,” added Dash.
The site also serves as an eco-tourism centre of the state forest department and attracts thousands of tourists during winter season. Several women Self Help Groups are involved in managing the eco-tourism centre by providing room services, catering and guide services.