Kutch gets Biosphere Reserve status

The Greater and Little Rann of Kutch have finally got the much-awaited status of ‘biosphere reserves’. The Central government’s decision to grant this is a step towards projecting Kutch as an international nature destination.The Gujarat government has set up two committees for the management of Kutch Biosphere Reserve (KBR).The region is unique as it not only has a wild ass sanctuary, but also a place where over 1 lakh flamingos breed every year. KBR will focus on decreasing dependence of local people on the area, providing them with alternatives. Under KBR, all departments — rural development, agriculture, animal husbandry, panchayat, collectorate and forests — will work in co-ordination. Apart from NGOs, research institutes will also be part of the project.Forest department officials said biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme. The reserves focus is on conserving biological diversity, research, monitoring and providing sustainable development models. The KBR proposal will now be sent to UNESCO for recognition.The ministry of environment and forests will provide funds not only for conservation of landscape and biological diversity, but also to preserve cultural heritage, education and information exchange.Biosphere reserves are protected under Wildlife Protection Act, Indian Forest Act and Forest Conservation Act. Such reserves in India, which are part of the world network, are Sunderbans in West Bengal, Nilgiris biosphere (spread over three states - Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala) and Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu (covering the part between India and Sri Lanka too).

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