Bhitarkanika Sanctuary has been nominated as one among 9 natural eco-sites for inclusion in World Heritage site. A 5 member assessment Team from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) consisting of wild life scientists, environment specialists and eco-spot experts interacted with senior officers of the State in a high level meeting held under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary Sri Aditya Prasad Padhi in secretariat conference hall on Thursday.
It was discussed in the meeting that the team would visit Bhitarkanika on Friday and would assess the eco-site from various aspects. The issues relating to protection, conservation, bio-diversity, inclusiveness of the area, people’s participation, tourism potential, livelihood of the people, environmental quality etc would be examined by the team. The team would make recommendations to the World Union about its inclusion.
As per the queries made by members of the committee, they were appraised that Bhitarkanika was declared as protected forest in the year 1961. Than after in 672 kms of its area was declared as Wild Life sanctuary in 1975 and its core area of 145 kms was declared as National Park in 1998. The place also got international recognitions. It was declared as a Ramsar site in the year 2002. In the year 2008 Bhitarkanika was inscribed in the tentative list of World Heritage sites.
The forest has more than 300 plant species of about 80 families including 94 species of mangroves & associates of 28 families. It has other unique features like largest number of salt water estuarine crocodiles in the world, 300 species of indigenous and migratory birds and mass nesting of olive riddle seas turtles. It has also 24 species of crabs and two species of horseshoe crabs. Community management system and peoples’ participation in development of the area are other important features of the site. The member State Pollution Control Board Sri Debidatta Biswal appraised that the indicators of pollution are well below the defined limits and the site has a balanced eco-system.
The senior officers from departments of home, state pollution control board, agriculture, rural development, fisheries & animal resource development, tourism, bio-diversity board, Wild Life Institute of India participated in discussions.