Madurai’s Arittapatti notified Tamil Nadu’s ‘First Biodiversity Heritage Site’

Arittapatti in Madurai has been notified as the first Biodiversity Heritage Site in Tamil Nadu. The development will benefit the numerous plant and animal species that brace the State. Arittapatti village is known to have a rich biological and historical significance with the presence of around 250 bird species including 3 flagship Raptor species – Laggar Falcon, Shaheen Falcon, Bonelli’s Eagle, and wildlife like Pangolin, Python, and Slender Loris.

About the Biodiversity Heritage Site

The Site spreads in an area of 193.215 hectares in Arittapatti and Meenakshipuram villages in the Madurai district. The notification comes under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, and will strengthen biodiversity conservation and protect from rapid loss of biodiversity.

Arittapatti consists of a chain of seven barren granite hillocks. It supports 72 lakes, 200 natural spring pools, and 3 check dams. The region also has historical importance – Tamil Brahmi inscriptions, Jain Beds, and Rock-cut temples which are 2,200 years old. Further, the Government of Tamil Nadu considers that the 7 inselbergs of Arittapatti will be of adequate biodiversity importance.

What is a Biodiversity Heritage Site?

Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS) are areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems having rich biodiversity comprising of any one or more endemic species, keystone species, or fossil beds or components having cultural or esthetic values. They are also rich in a variety of species.

A BHS is a step that adds to the conservation of the environment, while also protecting the community dependent on it. A modal of sustainable development ensures the sustainability of bio-resources across generations and marks the voluntary participation of communities in the protection and conservation of biodiversity.

According to Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act, the State Governments are empowered to notify in the official gazette, in consultation with local bodies, areas of biodiversity importance as Biodiversity Heritage Sites.

There are four Biodiversity Hotspots in India – Himalaya, Indo-Burma, Sunderland, and the Western Ghats. Besides, as of December 2021, a total of 22 Biodiversity Heritage Sites have been notified by 12 State Governments and 159 plants and 175 animals have been notified as threatened species in 18 states and 2 Union Territories. Seventeen institutions of national importance have been recognized as national Repositories for preserving voucher specimens of biodiversity.

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