The Gujarat government is working towards declaring two sites — an indigenous mango forest in Chinchli village of Dangs and an inland mangrove site in Guneri village of Kutch — on the Western Indo-Pakistan border as Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS), owing to their unique natural status.
The sites, proposed by the Gujarat Biodiversity Board (GBB), will be the state’s first biodiversity heritage sites.
According to a GBB expert, Guneri, nearly a hundred years old, is a natural inland mangrove site spread over 33 hectares including the buffer zone.
“Generally, mangroves are grown in coastal areas. However, the site in Guneri has inland mangrove of considerable height. It also has presence of wildlife like chinkara, ratel and some migratory birds. So, it has been selected as biodiversity heritage site,” the expert said.
Whereas, the Chinchli region in Dang district has a unique indigenous mango forest spread over 2,357 hectare in Piplaidevi Range.
“As per our enumeration, it contains 2,708 huge indigenous mango trees. Apart from that, the region also has 68 species of trees, 25 species of shrubs, 100 species of herbs, 50 species of climbers, 25 species of grass and 20 species of lower groups of plants like moss,” the expert said. As per estimates, Chinchli could date back to over 200 years.
“The range also has 50 types of herpatofauna like snakes and frogs, 50 types of insects and 31 types of spiders. The region is hilly and some of the cliffs of the hills are a natural nesting site of endangered vultures. So, all these aspects make the site very unique and it deserves BHS status,” said the expert.
According to GBB officials, the status does not impose any additional restrictions on locals in these areas apart from the ones which are already in place.
“The BHS tag will help conserve it in a better way apart from further developing tourism in the region,” said an official.
While the proposal for Guneri has been moved by the GBB for a notification, efforts are underway for a public consultation with stakeholders for Chinchli.
An officer of GBB said, “Under the provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, state biodiversity boards have powers to declare various sites of rich natural heritage as BHS. Gujarat is yet to declare any site as BHS and once approved, the two sites — Guneri and Chinchli — will be Gujarat’s first two biodiversity heritage sites.”
“The proposal for Guneri was moved before the state government some 3 to 4 months back, whereas, the proposal for Chinchli will be moved shortly after completing public consultation with stakeholders. Currently, we have invited objections/ suggestions of stakeholders within 30 days,” said a senior officer of GBB.