Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A biodiversity heritage site right in Bangalore, soon

A biodiversity heritage site right in Bangalore, soon

Bosky Khanna. Bangalore

Even as a controversy rages over the proposed road inside the campus of the University of Agricultural Science (UAS), this green area is all set to get the tag of a 'Biodiversity Heritage Site'. North Bangalore's biggest and most unique lung space, the Gandhi Krishi Vignyan Kendra, within the campus of the UAS, is among three sites proposed to be declared heritage sites under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
The state's biodiversity board had made the proposal to the government a fortnight ago. The other two sites short-listed for the tag are the Netrani Islands, coral islands just off the coast of Karnataka, and Hogrekhan corridor in Chikmagalur.
Once the GKVK gets the heritage tag, it will be free from commercialisation, urbanisation and 'road rage'. If all goes well, the GKVK campus will be the second heritage site near Bangalore, the first being Nallur tamarind grove in Devanahalli.
"A proposal has been sent, and the approval of the government has been obtained, in principle. This is yet to be notified, and people will be allowed to raise any objections," explained Karnataka state biodiversity board member and additional principal chief conservator of forests, RC Prajapathi. The objections will then be placed before the biodiversity committee, after which the government will make a declaration.
Once the declaration is made, it will buttress the fight against urbanisation in this region. Prjapathi added that the declaration will come as a shot in the arm for greens, as they can then cite it against activities that threaten the biodiversity of the area.
The campus spreads across 1,380 acres. Of this, 167 hectares, spread across 14 patches, have been identified as areas to be declared a biodiversity heritage site. The assessment of the area was done on the basis of a report by Dr S Subramanya, professor of entomology, GKVK.
"We have found 50 plants, 165 bird species, 90 butterfly varieties and ten species each of mammal and reptile that are unique to this region. There are also 277 fungi species and 53 species of mite that thrive in the area of the campus. Subramanya also said that a patch of scrub forest which has been in existence since at least 1573, has also been listed for protection as a heritage site.
Subramanya said that so far, biodiversity parks have been restricted to national parks and the Western Ghats alone. Areas in the vicinity of urban spaces too cry out for such protection. The IISc also houses unique species, though it has not been declared a heritage site, Subramanya added.

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