Tamil Nadu may get four new Biodiversity Heritage Sites this year

The T.N. Biodiversity Board has submitted a proposal to notify new sites in Dindigul, Cuddalore, Madurai and Krishnagiri districts as Biodiversity Heritage Sites; nearly 10 other proposals are in the works

January 10, 2024 12:48 pm | Updated January 11, 2024 04:11 pm IST - CHENNAI

The Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage Site (Madurai district) was notified as the first Biodiversity Heritage Site of Tamil Nadu, in November 2022

The Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage Site (Madurai district) was notified as the first Biodiversity Heritage Site of Tamil Nadu, in November 2022 | Photo Credit: MOORTHY G

After Arittapatti in Madurai district, four more places in Tamil Nadu may be declared Biodiversity Heritage Sites this year.

The Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board (TNBB) has been striving to identify, recognise and notify significant hotspots as Biodiversity Heritage Sites. The Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage Site (Madurai district) was notified as the first such Biodiversity Heritage Site of Tamil Nadu, in November 2022.

Now, the TNBB has submitted a proposal to approve of and notify Kasampatti (Dindigul), Sendirakkilai Sacred Grove (Cuddalore), Idayapatti (Madurai) and Kuriyanapalli Forest Block (Krishnagiri) as Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS).

The TNBB also plans to submit between five and 10 additional proposals for new Biodiversity Heritage Sites to the government this year, said Shekhar Kumar Niraj, former secretary TNBB, who has since retired voluntarily.

The Sendirakillai Sacred Grove BHS proposal was received from the Cuddalore Forest Division, and was assessed on December 6, 2022, by a team from TNBB for its suitability for notification as a BHS. Subsequently, the proposal was submitted to the government on March 9, 2023 along with the boundary details and all necessary details on its ecology and socio-economic aspects.

Field assessments have been undertaken at 20 proposed BH Sites across 11 districts so far, to check for their suitability for declaration as BHSs.

The BHS in Bommayapalayam village near Auroville beach, Villupuram district is from a site where there is natural growth of a specific wild sesame (kaattu ell) plant, of the Sesamum prostratum variety. The plant used to grow in large numbers at this site, but now, growth has shrunk, primarily due to pollution. The Board plans to conduct a genetic study here, aiming to conserve and protect the site from any further deterioration. It was determined that this area too, may meet the criteria to be declared a BHS.

25 proposals from T.N. districts

The Board is also pursuing about 25 BHS proposals from various districts, and is making an effort to get the necessary details to complete the proposals for submission to the government for its approval and subsequent notification.

A network of Biodiversity Heritage Sites in the State could potentially become an important tool to conserve biodiversity that has a unique character, and could pave the way for local communities to participate in the process of conservation. It could also create opportunities for the sustainable use of such regions, with fair and equitable sharing. In the long run, this initiative could be an important precursor to the sustainable development of various local regions.

The TNBB also regulates the use of biological resources in the state of Tamil Nadu by not just conserving, but also facilitating their sustainable use through an Access Benefit Sharing mechanism, Mr. Niraj said.

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