Mahendragiri gets biodiversity heritage site tag, second in Odisha

“The hill eco-system acts as a transitional zone between flora and fauna of Western Ghats and the Himalayan biogeographic zones making the region an ecological estuary of genetic diversities.

Published: 26th November 2022 06:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th November 2022 06:22 AM   |  A+A-

Mahendragiri hill

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha government on Friday accorded Mahendragiri the tag of ‘biodiversity heritage site’ making it the second such spot in the state after Mandasaru Gorge in Kandhamal. Issuing a notification to this effect, Forest and Environment department stated that an area of 4,250 hectare in the Mahendragiri hill eco-system, comprising two reserve forests -- Idongiri and Mahendra RF -- in Gajapati district has been declared as ‘biodiversity heritage site’ as per section 37 of Biodiversity Act and Odisha Biodiversity Rules 2012. 

Mahendragiri hill

The Odisha Biodiversity Board (OBB), in September this year, had submitted a proposal to the stte government seeking ‘biodiversity heritage site’ status for Mahendragiri for protection and long-term conservation of the hill eco-system. 

“The hill eco-system acts as a transitional zone between flora and fauna of Western Ghats and the Himalayan biogeographic zones making the region an ecological estuary of genetic diversities. It plays a pivotal role in maintaining the ecological balance and control of climate of the entire south Odisha and Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh. The fragile ecosystem is also being treated as a critical habitat of Saora (Saura) and Kondh tribe,” stated the Forest department in its notification. 

A detailed inventory on the biodiversity of the hill ecosystem conducted by the Biodiversity Board has identified about 1,348 species of plants including two of gymnosperms and 1,042 of angiosperms, 60 species of bryophytes, 53 of lichens and 72 of macro fungi.

The hill ecosystem includes 388 species of animals, 27 species of mammals, 165 species of birds, 23 species of snakes, 15 species of amphibians, 3 species of turtles, 19 species of lizards, 100 species of butterflies and 36 species of moths. Officials said the hill ecosystem is the only high-altitude dry evergreen shola forest in the state. It also represents 40 per cent of reported higher plant species in Odisha.



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