Odisha Declares Gupteswar Forest as Biodiversity Heritage Site

Odisha Declares Gupteswar Forest as Biodiversity Heritage Site

The Odisha government has declared the Gupteswar forest in Koraput district as its fourth Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS). The forest is adjacent to the Gupteswar Shiva temple in the Dhondrakhol reserve forest under the Jeypore forest division.

Previous Designations

  • Earlier, the State government had declared Mandasaru in Kandhamal district, Mahendragiri in Gajpati, and Gandhamardan in Bargarh and Bolangir districts as Biodiversity Heritage Sites.

Characteristics of Gupteswar Forest

  • Spread over 350 hectares, the site hosts sacred grooves traditionally worshiped by the local community.
  • It boasts a wide range of flora and fauna.

Faunal Diversity

  • According to the Odisha Biodiversity Board, the site has 608 faunal species.
  • This includes 28 species of mammals, 188 species of birds, 18 species of amphibians, 48 species of reptiles, 45 species of fish, 141 species of butterflies, 43 species of moths, 30 species of spiders, six species of scorpions, and 20 species of lower invertebrates.

Notable Species

  • Significant faunal species documented include mugger, kanger valley rock gecko, sacred grove bush frog, and avifauna like black baza, Jerdon’s baza, Malabar trogon, common hill myna, white-bellied woodpecker, and banded bay cuckoo.

Limestone Caves and Bats

  • The limestone caves of Gupteswar are home to eight species of bats out of the total 16 species found in southern Odisha.

Floral Diversity

  • The forest also boasts rich floral diversity, including 182 species of trees, 76 species of shrubs, 177 species of herbs, 69 species of climbers, 14 species of orchids, and threatened medicinal plants such as Indian trumpet tree, Indian snake root, Cumbi gum tree, garlic pear tree, Chinese fever vine, Rohituka tree, Jodpakli, Indian jointfir, and various wild crop relatives of ginger and turmeric.

Conservation Measures

  • The State government has tasked the Odisha Biodiversity Board with preparing a long-term conservation and development plan for these sites.
  • Local communities are encouraged to participate directly.
  • An amount of ₹35 lakh has been allocated for the preparation of the action plan and awareness building activities in the localities.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs):

  1. Where is the Gupteswar forest located?
    • A) Kandhamal district
    • B) Koraput district
    • C) Gajpati district
    • D) Bargarh district
    • Answer: B) Koraput district
  2. How many Biodiversity Heritage Sites has the Odisha government declared prior to Gupteswar forest?
    • A) Two
    • B) Three
    • C) Four
    • D) Five
    • Answer: B) Three
  3. Which of the following is not mentioned as a faunal species found in the Gupteswar forest?
    • A) Black baza
    • B) Malabar trogon
    • C) Bengal tiger
    • D) Common hill myna
    • Answer: C) Bengal tiger
  4. What is the primary vegetation found in the Gupteswar forest?
    • A) Grasslands
    • B) Desert plants
    • C) Mangroves
    • D) Sacred groves
    • Answer: D) Sacred groves
  5. What amount has been allocated by the State government for preparation of the action plan and awareness building activities?
    • A) ₹20 lakh
    • B) ₹30 lakh
    • C) ₹35 lakh
    • D) ₹40 lakh
    • Answer: C) ₹35 lakh