Ahead of a possible conferring of the tag of a World Heritage Site, Bhitarkanika national park in Kendrapara district would come under ground-level scrutiny of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
“A team from the global body will visit Bhitarkanika on October 16. We are hopeful that UNESCO will accord approval which will pave the way for the park becoming Odisha’s second World Heritage Site after Konarak Sun Temple,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Sidhanta Das said.
Earlier a comprehensive bio-diversity dossier of the national park was submitted to the UNESCO last year.
Odisha Forest Department had entrusted the Wildlife Institute for compilation of the bio-diversity dossier, which contained among other things wide-ranging ground-level information on the bio-diversity, eco-system and local human habitation and socio-economic condition of locals and their dependence on forest produce, officials said.
The national park, a bio-diversity treasure-trove, figures in the list of Ramsar international wetland sites across the globe.
The World Heritage Site status would provide an impetus to Bhitarkanika’s fragile bio-diversity.
With greater assistance from global institutions, its ecosystem would flourish in a big way, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division, B P Acharya, said.
Along with the Sundarbans in Bengal, Bhitarkanika is also enriched with country’s rich reserve of mangrove cover, which acts as a natural barrier to environmental calamities.
The mangrove forests perform important ecosystem function by breaking tidal surges and devastating cyclones.
The mangrove forests restrict and slow down erosion of tidal banks, stabilise silt deposits near the river mouth and also protect the lives of millions of coastal inhabitants by decelerating strong wave and tidal action.