Biodiversity Heritage Sites

Under Section 37 of Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BDA) the State Government in consultation with local bodies may notify in the official gazette, areas of biodiversity importance as Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS).

Under sub section (2) of Section 37, the State Government in consultation with the Central Government may frame rules for the management and conservation of BHS.

Under sub section (3) of Section 37, the State Governments shall frame schemes for compensating or rehabilitating any person or section of people economically affected by such notification.

"Biodiversity Heritage Sites" (BHS) are well defined areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems - terrestrial, coastal and inland waters and, marine having 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, presence 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 and having significant cultural, ethical or aesthetic values and are important for the maintenance of cultural diversity, with or without a long history of human association with them.

Criteria for Identification of BHS

Areas having any of the following characteristics may qualify for inclusion as BHS.

  • Areas that contain a mosaic of natural, semi-natural, and manmade habitats, which together contain a significant diversity of life forms.
  • Areas that contain significant domesticated biodiversity component and/or representative agro-ecosystems with ongoing agricultural practices that sustain this diversity.
  • Areas that are significant from a biodiversity point of view as also are important cultural spaces such as sacred groves/trees and sites, or other large community conserved areas.
  • Areas including very small ones that offer refuge or corridors for threatened and endemic fauna and flora, such as community conserved areas or urban greens and wetlands.
  • Regulation of access to the biological resources and/or associated traditional knowledge, for commercial and research purposes
  • Areas that provide habitats, aquatic or terrestrial, for seasonal migrant species for feeding and breeding.
  • Areas that are maintained as preservation plots by the research wing of Forest department.
  • Medicinal Plant Conservation Areas.

Identification and Declaration of BHS

State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) may invite suggestion (or consider those already coming from communities) for declaration of BHSs, through BMCs and other relevant community institutions including gram sabhas, panchayats, urban wards, forest protection committees, tribal councils. SBB may undertake widespread dissemination of information related to the proposed BHS among rural communities, NGOs, farmer/fishermen/adivasi associations, urban groups, research institutions, government agencies, and other organizations, regarding the provision of BHSs, through locally appropriate means. These could include local language newspapers, radio, holding meetings with the communities, letters to line departments, gram panchayats, local bodies and others.

BHS in Meghalaya

As per Biodiversity Act, areas rich/unique in biodiversity can be notified by the State Government as BHS. Based on the recommendation received from the village Dorbar of Umkon village, a forest patch of 16 ha area, under Umkon village, Ri-Bhoi district has been proposed to be constituted as the first BHS in the state. The proposal has already been submitted to the Government of Meghalaya for further process towards declaration of the first BHS.