“Biodiversity Heritage Sites” (BHS) are well defined areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems – terrestrial, coastal and inland waters and, marine having rich biodiversity comprising of any one or more of the following components: richness of wild as well as domesticated species or intra-specific categories, high endemism, presence of rare and threatened species, keystone species, species of evolutionary significance, wild ancestors of domestic/cultivated species or their varieties, past pre-eminence of biological components represented by fossil beds and having significant cultural, ethical or aesthetic values and are important for the maintenance of cultural diversity, with or without a long history of human association with them.
Criteria for Identification of BHS
Areas having any of the following characteristics may qualify for inclusion as BHS.
- Areas that contain a mosaic of natural, semi-natural, and manmade habitats, which together contain a significant diversity of life forms.
- Areas that contain significant domesticated biodiversity component and/or representative agro-ecosystems with ongoing agricultural practices that sustain this diversity.
- Areas that are significant from a biodiversity point of view as also are important cultural spaces such as sacred groves/trees and sites, or other large community conserved areas.
- Areas including very small ones that offer refuge or corridors for threatened and endemic fauna and flora, such as community conserved areas or urban greens and wetlands.
- Regulation of access to the biological resources and/or associated traditional knowledge, for commercial and research purposes
- Areas that provide habitats, aquatic or terrestrial, for seasonal migrant species for feeding and breeding.
- Areas that are maintained as preservation plots by the research wing of Forest department.
- Medicinal Plant Conservation Areas.
Identification and Declaration of BHS
State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) may invite suggestion (or consider those already coming from communities) for declaration of BHSs, through BMCs and other relevant community institutions including gram sabhas, panchayats, urban wards, forest protection committees, tribal councils. SBB may undertake widespread dissemination of information related to the proposed BHS among rural communities, NGOs, farmer/fishermen/adivasi associations, urban groups, research institutions, government agencies, and other organizations, regarding the provision of BHSs, through locally appropriate means. These could include local language newspapers, radio, holding meetings with the communities, letters to line departments, gram panchayats, local bodies and others.