Odisha Declares Gupteswar Forest as Fourth Biodiversity Heritage Site

  • 13 Feb 2024

The Odisha government has recently officially designated the Gupteswar forest in Koraput district as its fourth Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS).

Key Points

  • Location and Significance: The Gupteswar forest, situated adjacent to the Gupteswar Shiva temple within the Dhondrakhol reserve forest, is now recognized as a Biodiversity Heritage Site. It joins Mandasaru, Mahendragiri, and Gandhamardan as protected areas in Odisha.
  • Area and Features: Covering 350 hectares, the Gupteswar forest contains sacred groves revered by the local community and hosts a diverse range of flora and fauna.
  • Faunal Diversity: A comprehensive biodiversity survey conducted by the Odisha Biodiversity Board revealed the presence of 608 faunal species, including various mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, butterflies, moths, spiders, scorpions, and lower invertebrates.
  • Notable Species: The forest is home to significant fauna such as mugger crocodiles, kanger valley rock geckos, sacred grove bush frogs, and diverse avifauna like black bazas, Malabar trogons, and white-bellied woodpeckers.
  • Limestone Caves: The limestone caves in Gupteswar harbor eight bat species, contributing to the region's ecological diversity.
  • Floral Diversity: Rich in flora, the forest boasts 182 tree species, 76 shrub species, 177 herb species, 69 climber species, 14 orchid species, and various threatened medicinal plants.
  • Conservation Measures: The State government has directed the Odisha Biodiversity Board to formulate a comprehensive conservation and development plan for these sites, emphasizing local community involvement. An initial allocation of ₹35 lakh has been made for action plan preparation and community awareness initiatives.