The state government of Odisha has proposed a second biosphere reserve in the southern part of the state at Mahendragiri. The southern part is a mountain in the Gajapati district. It is at an altitude of 1501 metres. Mahendragiri is also the second-highest peak in Odisha.
- The area of the proposed 2nd biosphere reserve of the state- Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is approximately 470955 hectares.
- As per the Biosphere Reserve Committee’s feasibility report for the proposed project, the hill ecosystem is acting as a transitional zone between the flora and fauna of southern India and the Himalayas. This makes the region an ecological estuary of genetic diversity.
- The feasibility report has been submitted to the government which will now be taken up by the Union Environment Ministry.
- Recently, at a workshop titled Integrated Development of Mahendragiri Hill Complex, many environmentalists also urged the state government to send a proposal to centre government for declaring Mahendragiri a biosphere reserve.
- At some time, the protected archeological remains of Mahendragiri were listed in the tentative list of Unesco World Heritage Sites, thus, it is easy to declare it as a biosphere reserve.
- Soura people are the inhabitants at Mahendragiri. Soura is a particularly vulnerable tribal group as well as the Kandha tribe.
- According to the report of the proposed Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve, Mahendragiri has diverse vegetation. The rich flora in Mahendragiri represents 40% of the reported flora of Odisha, with around 1,358 species of plants.
- Also, out of the 41 species of threatened medicinal plants found in Odisha (as per the International Union for the Conservation of Nature), 29 are found in the biosphere reserve area.
- The faunal diversity of the hills consists of 388 species of animals, including 165 species of birds, 27 species of mammals, 23 species of snakes, three species of turtles, 15 species of amphibians, and 19 lizards.
Similipal Biosphere Reserve
The first biosphere reserve of Odisha is Similipal Biosphere Reserve. It was notified on 20th May 1996. It has an area of a 5,569-square km.
Mahendragiri Second Biosphere Reserve in Odisha