Bhubaneswar: A 5-member assessment team from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) would visit Bhitarkanika National Park on Friday to assess the eco-site from various aspects.
Notably, Bhitarkanika sanctuary has been nominated to be included in UNESCO World Heritage site.
The team consisting of wildlife scientists, environment specialists, and eco-spot experts interacted with senior officers of the state at a high-level meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi at secretariat conference hall on Thursday.
It was discussed in the meeting that the team would visit Bhitarkanika and assess the eco-site from various aspects. The issues relating to protection, conservation, bio-diversity, inclusiveness of the area, people’s participation, tourism potential, the livelihood of the people, environmental quality etc would be examined by the team.
The team would make recommendations to the World Union for its inclusion.
Speaking about the community participation in maintenance of eco-sites, Development Commissioner R. Balakrishnan said that respect and love for the natural eco-sites is an inherited part of Odisha culture for which a number of eco-sites along the coast and hill tracks have been conserved and developed through time.
Bhitarkanika sanctuary was declared as protected forest in the year 1961. 672 km of its area was declared as wildlife sanctuary in 1975 and its core area of 145 km was declared as National Park in 1998.
The place also got international recognitions. It was declared as a Ramsar site in the year 2002. In the year 2008, Bhitarkanika was inscribed in the tentative list of World Heritage sites.
The forest has more than 300 plant species of about 80 families including 94 species of mangroves & associates of 28 families. It has other unique features like largest number of saltwater estuarine crocodiles in the world, 300 species of indigenous and migratory birds and mass nesting of olive riddle seas turtles.
It has also 24 species of crabs and 2species of horseshoe crabs. Community management system and peoples’ participation in the development of the area are other important features of the site.