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

The sprawling Kaya Kalp Vriksh (Great Banyan Tree) at the remote village of Cholti Kheri , Khera Mandal block, Fatehgarh Sahib district, will be the first biodiversity heritage site of Punjab, as the state government has decided to issue a notification in this regard.
The Punjab Biodiversity Board (PBB) has finalised a proposal to get the site of this tree listed as a biodiversity heritage site (BHS) for its conservation and management under Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act (BDA), 2002.
The tree is situated on private land, but owners of the land have willingly given their land for declaration of the tree as a heritage site.
The tree is approximately 300 years’ old, spread over 3.5-acre land. The ‘magical’ tree represents a complete ecosystem supporting rich biodiversity, including peacocks, owls and many other birds, reptiles such as snakes, monitor lizards, garden lizards, insects, arthropods, millipedes, nematodes, epiphytes, bryophytes, fungi, algae and lichens. The site is being conserved and managed with the active support of Fatehgah Sahib district administration and the Biodiversity Management Committee set up by the Board.
On the invitation of the Board, Dr Amita Prasad, IAS, additional secretary, Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change,visited the site of the tree and lauded efforts of the government to conserve it. She lauded the district administration for recognition of the community-based conservation model of the site as the best practice and said that she would implement this model in other states as well.
Dr Gurharminder Singh, senior scientific officer of the Board said that the Board has already initiated the process to get the site declared as the first biodiversity heritage site of Punjab. The village had already passed a panchayat- level resolution for the declaration of the Kayak Kalp Variksh as a BHS and also ensured its conservation and management with the technical support of the PBB.
Even a documentary of the site has been recently prepared by the Paris-based production house, “Camera Lucida” with the support of the PBB for TV series titled ‘Tree Stories: Most Remarkable Trees of the World’.

Hindustan Times

Sep 18, 2017