Tamil Nadu gets its first Biodiversity Heritage Site

Prelims level : Environment Mains level : GS-III Environment & Biodiversity | Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia
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Why in News?

  • The Tamil Nadu government notified the Arittapatti and Meenakshipuram villages in the Madurai district as the first biodiversity heritage site in the State.


  • The new Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS) comprises 139.63 hectares in Arittapatti village and 53.58 hectares in Meenakshipuram village and will be known as the Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage Site.
  • The Arittapatti region is known for its ecological and historical significance as it houses about 250 species of birds which include three important raptors species namely the Laggar Falcon, the Shaheen Falcon and Bonelli’s Eagle. 
  • The site is also known for other important wildlife fauna such as the Indian pangolin, slender loris and pythons. 
  • The region is surrounded by seven hillocks that serve as a watershed and help charge about 72 lakes, 200 natural springs and three check-dams.
  • The Anaikondan tank, constructed during the Pandiyan era (16th century) is one among them.  
  • The area also comprises megalithic structures, rock-cut temples, Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and Jain beds.

Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS):

  • Biodiversity Heritage Sites are those well-defined areas that are known for their unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems with rich biodiversity comprising of any one or more of the following components:
  • Richness of wild as well as domesticated species or intra-specific categories

High endemism

  • Existence of rare and threatened species, keystone species, species of evolutionary significance, wild ancestors of domestic/cultivated species or their varieties
  • Past pre-eminence of biological components represented by fossil beds 
  • Having significant cultural, ethical or aesthetic values and are important for the maintenance of cultural diversity and long history of human association
  • Biodiversity Heritage Sites can be either terrestrial, coastal and inland waters or marine ecosystems. 
  • According to Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, state governments can notify areas as Biodiversity Heritage Sites in consultation with local governing bodies.
  • Famous Biodiversity Heritage Sites in India include Nallur Tamarind Grove and Hogrekan (Karnataka), Glory of Allapalli (Maharashtra), Tonglu BHS under the Darjeeling Forest Division (West Bengal), Dialong Village (Manipur), Ameenpur lake (Telangana), Majuli (Assam), Naro Hills (Madhya Pradesh), Baramura waterfall and Silachari Caves (Tripura)
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