The Odisha government has designated the Gupteswar forest as its fourth Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS).

About Gupteswar Forest:

• The ‘Gupteswar Forest’ (part of Eastern Ghats, in southern Odisha) attracts naturalists, environmentalists, researchers, and tourists due to its rich biodiversity.

  • The area is home to a variety of wildlife, including the mugger crocodile, sacred Grove Bush Frog, Kanger Valley Rock Gecko, and avifauna like Jerdon’s baza, black baza, Malabar trogon, white-bellied woodpecker, common hill myna, and banded bay cuckoo. 
  • The area also has threatened medicinal plants like the Indian trumpet tree, Indian snakeroot, Cumbi gum tree, Garlic pear tree, Chinese fever vine, Rohituka tree, Jodpakli, Indian jointfir, and wild crop relatives of ginger and turmeric. 
  • The limestone caves of Gupteswar are adorned with eight species of bats out of the total 16 species found in southern Odisha.
  • Among them, two species Hipposideros galeritus and Rhinolophus rouxii are under the near-threatened category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

• The cave shrine of Gupteswar nestles on a lush green hill, 58 km from Jeypore, and 80 km away from Koraput, amidst deep forest. The Cavernous interior of the temple enshrines a huge ‘lingam’ (Shiva-Linga God).

• The cave is a multi-chambered wonder, Gupteswar is also Popularly known as Gupta Kedra Shabari a Rocky Stream of Great Scenic Beauty Flows by Gupteswar.

• It is believed that Lord Rama when passed through this region on his way to Panchabati in Dandaka-ranya.

• With this designation, Odisha now boasts four Biodiversity Heritage Sites, including Mandasaru BHS in the Kandhamala district, Mahendragiri BHS in Gajpati district, and Gandhamardan BHS in Bargarh and Bolangir district.

Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS):

• Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act (BDA) of 2002 recognizes BHS as a unique conservation technique.

  • Section 37 (1): The State Government may regularly notify Biodiversity Heritage Sites in the Official Gazette in collaboration with local bodies.  

• These sites have high biodiversity, rare and threatened species, keystone species, natural importance, wild ancestors of domesticated/cultivated species, fossil beds, and cultural, ethical, or decorative values for maintaining cultural diversity.

Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS)

Also Read:

IBBI’s expert panel recommends voluntary mediation under IBC