Great Banyan Tree’ in Fatehgarh Sahib to be Punjab’s 1st biodiversity heritage site

A 300-year-old banyan tree (Kayakalp Vriksh) — spread over 3.5 acres at Cholti Kheri village in the district — will be developed as the state’s first biodiversity heritage site.

The tree represents a complete ecosystem supporting rich biodiversity, including peacocks, owls, snakes, monitor lizards, garden lizards, arthropods, millipedes, nematodes, epiphytes, bryophytes, fungi, algae and lichens.

A village resident, Kuldeep Singh, said the tree had covered an area of about 2.5 acres five years ago. He said the villagers believed that it had spiritual powers.

The site is being conserved and managed by the district administration with the help of biodiversity management committees set up by the Punjab Biodiversity Board (PBB) under Section 41 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

A Central Government team led by Amita Prasad, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change; along with Amandeep Bansal, ADC (G); Jatinder Kaur Arora, Member Secretary, PBB; Gurharminder Singh, Senior Scientific Officer, PBB; and Gurvinder Singh, sarpanch and chairman of the village BMC; had visited the site on September 14.

Arora said Paris-based production house Camera Lucida had recently made a documentary on the tree as part of a TV series, ‘Tree Stories: Most Remarkable Trees of the World’.

Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 18