Efforts to declare Gupteswar in Odisha a Biodiversity Heritage Site
Gupteswar, a pilgrim site about 55 km from Jeypore, Koraput district is surrounded by dense forest having very rich biodiversity of many rare and endemic species of flora and fauna. Locally it is also known for its limestone cave and gigantic Shiva Linga which is said to be increasing in size. In 2018, MSSRF proposed to Odisha Biodiversity Board (OBB) that the biodiversity-rich Gupteswar Reserve Forest of Koraput be declared a Biodiversity Heritage Site. This was also to protect the loss of important RET (Rare Endemic and Threatened) species.
To capture availability of various species in Gupteswar Reserve Forest region, a preliminary documentation and People’s Biodiversity Register of this region were submitted to OBB. This proposal was accepted and the PCCF cum Chairman of OBB formed a team to initiate a detailed survey of the proposed forest region.
In this context, the Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) members of Haladikund Gram Panchayat near Gupteswar who are instrumental in conservation of biodiversity, participated in a capacity building training programme organised jointly by MSSRF, OBB and Jeypore Forest Division on 13 January 2021 at Biju Patnaik Tribal Agrobiodiversity Centre (BPTAbC), Jeypore. PCCF cum Chairman OBB, Bhubaneswar Shri Maloth Moham, DFO, Jeypore Shri N.S. Jagdish Prasad Singh, Asst Prof. CUO, Koraput Dr. Debabrata Panda, and scientists from OBB Bhubaneswar were present. The members of BMCs were trained on sustainable harvesting of plant species, collection and conservation of rare and endemic plant species and protection of flora and fauna available in the region.
Dr Kartik CharanLenka, Prashant K Parida, and Naresh Chandra Patro of MSSRF facilitated the programme. PCCF cum Chaiman OBB mentioned that after receiving the survey report, a recommendation will be sent to the National Biodiversity Board (NBB) to declare Gupteswar Reserve Forest as a Biodiversity Heritage Site. If accepted by NBB, then Gupteswar shall be the second Biodiversity Heritage Site in Odisha after Mandasaru Village in Kandhamal District.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.