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Biosphere Reserves
Biosphere Reserve (BR) is an International designation made by UNESCO for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof. BRs are designated to deal with one of the most important questions of reconciling the conservation of biodiversity, the quest for economic and social development and maintenance of associated cultural values.

BRs are thus special environments for both people and the nature and are living examples of how human beings and nature can co-exist while respecting each others’ needs.
These areas are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO's Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme, after receiving consent of the participating country.
The world’s major ecosystem types and landscapes are represented in this network .
At present 15 Biosphere Reserve has been recognized all over the country. Out of this 2 lies in Madhya Pradesh.
Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve, notified by Govt of India in 1999, and is one of the twelfth biosphere reserves in India. Similarly Amarkantak area covering parts of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, thus an interstate Biosphere Reserve, was notified as Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve in March 2005 and is fourteenth such biosphere reserve.

Management Action Plan of Biosphere Reserve

In Madhya Pradesh the Department of Housing and Environment is nodal deptt. for implementation of the Biosphere Reserve Programme. As per conditions of the notification issued by Govt of India, the State has constituted the District Level Field Coordination Committees (DLFCC) under concerned district collectors and State Level Steering Committee (SLSC) under Chief Secretary for management of these biosphere reserves. The Environmental Planning and Coordination Organisation (EPCO) has been designated as Nodal Agency on behalf of Madhya Pradesh for implementation of the Management Action Plans. For management of Achanakmar-Amarkantak BR the area falling under Chhatisgarh is managed separately by Chhatisgarh Government while the area falling under Madhya Pradesh is managed by Govt. of MP separately. The Govt. of India also constituted interstate coordination committee for coordination and implementation at State level.

Identification and preparation of the field projects for implementation is done in the DLFCC meeting. Thereafter the projects are compiled in the form of annual Management Action Plan and placed in SLCC meeting for approval. Subsequently the MAPs are sent to GOI for its sanction. Once the project is sanctioned then the fund flows to line field detts/organizations through EPCO. The monitoring and progress is done through DLFCC meeting held from time to time. Besides this monitoring of the implementation of a few projects are also being carried by EPCO.

Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve

The total area of Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve is 4981.72 sq. km.. It is located at Longitude 22 ° 11’ to 22 ° 50’N and Latitude 77 ° 47’ to 78 ° 52’E. It covers parts of three civil districts, viz., Hoshangabad (59.55%) , Chhindwara (29.19%), , & Betul (11.26%). It includes three wildlife conservation units viz., Bori Sanctuary (485.72 sq km), Satpura National Park (524.37 sq km) and Pachmarhi Sanctuary (491.63 sq km). These altogether has also been notified as Satpura Tiger Reserve ( 1501.72 sq km).

The notification of Pachmarhi area as Biosphere Reserve by itself will not in any way change the status of existing legal ownership of land and forests nor affect the rights of tribal and local people in anyway.

The total BR area has been designated into core, buffer and transition zone. The Core Zone consists of 1555.23 sq km, the Buffer Zone - 1785.58 sq km and the Transition Zone: 1640.91 sq km. The Core Zone includes Satpura NP (524.37 sq km), Bori Sanctuary (485.72 sq km), Pachmarhi Sanctuary (439.15 sq km) and RF/ PF out side STR (105.99 sq km).

The altitude varies from 320 to 1352 m above MSL at different locations in the BR area . Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve has a large variety of elevations and topography, thus has a varied climate. The area has a typical monsoon climate with three distinct seasons of summer (March to June), rainy season (July to October) with heavy rains and cloudy climate and winter (November to February).

The Landuse pattern based on Satellite imagery of 2000 indicates that it consist of various land uses. Of the total area the Built-up Land is 0.54 %, Agriculture Land- 29.38 %, Forest Land - 62.97 %, Waste Land - 2.18 %, Water bodies - 4.93 %.

Pachmarhi biosphere reserve area, which constitutes the Central part of India, is one of the highly biodiversity rich areas with high floristic diversity and unique plant life forms because of the varied spectrum variations of the latitude, altitude, rainfall, topography, soil type and other climatic aspects. Pachmarhi BR area is often recognized as “Genetic Express Highway” linking two biological hot spots of the country viz. Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats, also as confluence of northern and southern type of vegetation.

The area is virtually a junction of forest representative types prevailing in the state. It is a natural junction of two most important timber species viz. Teak and Sal. The entire forest can be broadly classified into three major type's viz. Moist deciduous, dry deciduous, central Indian sub tropical hill forest. However, it can further be classified into seven sub types based on microclimatic conditions, soil types, topographical features, etc .

The study of the floral diversity in the area carried out by state forest research institute, Jabalpur in 1993, reported 1381 plant species, which comprise 8 species of algae, 22 of fungi, 83 Bryophytes in 34 families, 71 pteridophytes in 16 families, 07 species of gymnosperms and 1190 species of flowering plants (angiosperms).

The occurrence of relict form of Sal (Shorea robusta) in the predominant teak (Tectona grandis) bearing area is a unique ecological phenomenon in this biosphere reserve. This patch is separated by a distance of about 160 km from the nearest major belt of sal forest in east Mandla and north Balaghat divisions. The area is the upper limit for the growth of sal. It is also the western limit of Sal growth, thus making the area unique .

Several angiospermic plants are also observed to be rare in the br area. Some of the important species of ferns are Psilotum triquetra, Isoetes panchanaii, Selaginella exigua, Ophioglossum nudicaule, tree ferns i.e. Cyathea gigantea, and c. Spinulosa etc., are found in Pachmarhi BR. The existence of several species viz., Psilotum nudum, Lycopodium cerenum, Polybotrya appendiculata, Lygodum flexuosum. Cyathea spinulosa, Polysticum ambile and several other medicinal plants are in danger due to constant botanical excursions of students and research scholars of universities/ research institutions. Drocera indica an insectivorous plants, is also found in this region. A few clumps of rare and endemic species of bamboo (Bambusa polymorpha) occur in the moist teak forest of bori reserve. In pachmarhi br, there are several species like Melastoma melabaricum, Murraya paniculata, Holmskioldia sanguinea; Blumea lanceolaria and Sophora interrupta, which are not found anywhere else in the state. It is one of the areas, where natural forests support large sized wild mango trees, whose off springs have arisen along suitable site, dispersed by man and animals .

The faunal composition represents the Deccan Peninsular zone of biogeographic classification of India . Most of the Pachmarhi BR is covered with dense forest vegetation and forms an ideal habitat for wild animals. Over 50 species of mammal, 254 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles, 56 species of butterflies and numerous other forms of animals are found in the area. The steep vertical scarps are home to numerous raptors like honey buzzard and black eagle and hawks. These forests have both grey as well as the red jungle fowl, which are usually found separately either in north or south India, respectively. Among the other birds represented are Malabar pied hornbill, Malabar whistling thrush and paradise fly catcher. The presence of numerous streams, dense foliage, wild flowers, woodland edges and damp patches attract numerous colorful butterf1ies including orange oak leaf, black rajah, great egg fly, blue pansy etc.

According to wildlife (protection) act (1972) the wildlife belonging to schedule i, ii, iii & iv also occur in the area. As per wildlife census (2006), the tiger population has increased from 35 to 39 in 2004. However, as per 2004 wild life census, 69 leopards, 300 barking deer's, 1900-2100 bison (guar), 2300-2500 Cheetals, 3500-3600 Sambhars, 210-235 sloth bear, 35-40 Chinkara, 25-30 black buck and several other animal species have been reported in Pachmarhi BR. Tigers being top carnivore are generally confined to deep forests of national park and sanctuaries. However, leopards are found to be well distributed in the entire forest area of BR. Gaurs are the largest wild herbivore in the area and are localized in the moist and semi-moist forest having bamboo underneath. Sambhar and chital are found to be freely distributed in the area. Barking deer and four horned antelopes are also reported to be well distributed in the entire area. Nilgai, being a larger herbivore are localized in the drier area, where the growth of forest is thin. Bears are also frequently seen in the scrub forests. Langurs are quite common and distributed widely but rhesus monkeys are found at localized places in Pachmarhi plateau particularly near habitations, thus being endemic species. At least 14 species of mammals and reptiles are endangered including tiger, gaur or Indian bison. Several species like rhesus monkeys, Indian giant squirrels and flying squirrels are endemic to the area. The crested serpent eagles, giant squirrel, flying squirrel are also rare species found in the region. According to Shannon-Weiver the biodiversity index comes to be 1.998 which is highest faunal diversity in central India .

In the vicinity of the Pachmarhi plateau there are a large number of cave shelters of great archaeological interests, contained in them are a number of rock paintings executed by the tribes. Some of these may be around 1000 years old while a majority of these paintings belong to historical age, being 2500 to 1500 years old . A total of 55 rock painting sites have been identified in and around Pachmarhi, depicting the life style and civilization of that era.

Among them Mahadeo, Catacomb, Jumbudweep, Madai, Dorothideep, Jatashankar , Pandav caves, Bazar caves, Maradeo, Kaila khurd, Taptka pani, Kanjighat, Tamia, Rajat Prapat, Kharilanes are important from archaeological point of view .

The area is rich from cultural point of view. It was mainly inhabited by tribal in past. Among these, the most primitive tribe 'Bhariya' are found in Patalkot region. The hills around Pachmarhi were supposed to be sacred because of Mahadeo or lord Shiva of Hindus. The Handi-khoh, a deep gorge, is said to be the retreat of a monstrous serpent. Jambu-dweep is also a gorge cut into the soft rock at the bottom of which is a cavern in the rock, which has been cut by water action to resemble a giant lock of matted hair and sure enough called ' Jatashankar'. In geological terms, they are called stalactites and stalagmites. Two important Hindu festivals are observed in this locality with great fun. Nagpanchmi is observed in Shravan (July-­August) and Maha Shivratri is held in month of March. Generally 3-5 lakhs pilgrims come to attend these festivals .

The Pachmarhi plateau is always famous for its beautiful landscape. It is also famous as hill station for those who wish to retreat the busy life of urban cities. The hilltops and slopes are fully clothed with vegetation, whereas the flat land on the plateau is vast open grassy glades (meadows), the likes of which are not to be found at other hill station. These ecological glades, is the unique phenomenon of Pachmarhi .

The area comprises 581 human settlements (villages & urban agglomerations) which include 509 revenue villages, 65 forest villages and 7 semi urban settlements. Out of total settlements, 322 falls in Hoshangabad district, 190 in Chhindwara and 69 in Betul. Of the total settlements 47 falls in core zone, 224 in buffer zone and 310 in transition zone. Out of 47 villages falling in core zone, 45 are located within Satpura tiger reserve and to outside tiger reserve. It is to be mentioned here that 63 villages are found in Tiger reserve (Bori sanctuary-16, Satpura NP – and Pachmarhi sanctuary 40) with a total population holding of 4.75 lakhs (2001, census).

Most of places of tourist attraction are located at Pachamrhi plateau, inside the national park or adjacent to Pachmarhi Sanctuary. The title "Queen of the Satpura" is undoubtly well deserved by Pachmarhi. The place is Madhya Pradesh's most verdant jewel, a place where nature has found exquisite expression in a myriad enchanting ways. On the way to Pachmarhi beyond Matkuli, the visitor enjoys the sheer calm beauty of the plateau as a paradise.

The places worth being seen at and around Pachmarhi area, Priyadarshani point, Hondi khoh, Apsara vihar, Rajat prapat, Raj giri, Lanjee giri, Dutches fall, Sundar kund, Jatashankar, Chhota mahadeo, Mahadeo, Chauragarh, Dhupgarh, Pandav cave, Cave shelters. In Bori sanctuary, Churna, is a base for tourism. For a truly wilderness experience, the visitor can reach upto Neemghan through Pannarpani gate. The flat land and good visibility along with rich wildlife makes excursions here unforgettable .

The year wise funds provided by the Ministry of Environment & Forests for implementation of management action plan is given below.

Some of the project related to 2005-06 and most of the projects related to 2006-07 are under execution by various line field deptt./ organisation/ NGOs.

Reports on Pachmarhi Bioshpere Reserve Service
Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve

The Achanakmar Amarkantak biosphere reserve lies between lat . 22 o 15' to 22 o 58' N and long . 81 o 25' to 82 o 50' E , having an area 3835.51 km 2 , partly falling in Madhya Pradesh and partly in Chhattisgarh state . The area falls in almost northern part of Biogeographic zone of 6 and Biogeographic province 6a (Deccan peninsula , central highlands ). Out of the total area , 68.10 % lies in Bilaspur district followed by Anuppur (16.20 %) and Dindori (15.70 %). It includes one protected area (pa ) viz , Achanakmar sanctuary lying in Bilaspur district with a total geographical area of 551.15. Km 2 .

In line with Pachmarhi BR the notification of Achanakmar- Amarkantak area as Biosphere Reserve by itself has not in any way changed the status of legal ownership of land and forests nor affects the rights of tribal and local people in any way.

Presently the Achanakmar-Amarkantak biosphere reserve has been divided into core and buffer zones area only. The entire area of 551.15 sq. km of Achanakmar sanctuary has been designated as core zone and remaining area of 3284.36 km 2 serves as buffer zone. Out of this an area of 1224.98 km 2 falls in Madhya Pradesh and the rest of the area of 2059.38 km 2 fall in Chhattisgarh state.

Thetopographyis very varied from the rice fields below in Bilaspur and Anuppur and wheat fields in Dindori to the hills of Maikal range of Satpuras, culminating in the Amarkantak plateau of bauxite rocks. Steep escarpments are seen surrounding the plateau. Numerous streams and Nallas, many of which are perennial, cut up the whole area. The biosphere reserve area is one of major watershed of peninsular India separating rivers draining into Arabian sea and bay of Bengal. Its uniqueness lays in the fact that it is the source of three major river systems namely Narmada, Johilla and Sone of the Ganga basin and Ama Nallah stream that join Arpa river of Mahanadi basin.

The biosphere reserve area includes Maikal hill ranges, the junction of Vindhyan and Satpura hill ranges forming a triangular shape. The geology of the area is varied.

The biosphere area has a typical monsoon climate with three distinct seasons namely summer from March - June, rainy from July - October and winter season from November - February. Generally May and June are the hottest months whereas December and January are the coolest months of the year. Clouds prevail during the south western monsoon season i.e. from June-September to the degree of about 6 oktas as recorded by the IMD station at Pendra.

The soils of the area are generally lateritic, alluvial and black cotton type, derived from granite, gneisses and basalts. Black cotton soil is occuring in Dindori-Pendra Road and also along the Narmada River. In parts of Amarkantak, laterite occurs mainly as cappings above the Deccan trap. Red soil is also found on hilltops, which is Murramy or loosely packed and gritty, generally shallow and incapable of supporting good forest growth. Alluvial soils are found along the Nallahs and rivers. Alluvial and black cotton soils are the most fertile for agriculture in the area. The soil cover on the plateau generally varies between 1 to 5 m thicknesses.

The land use and forest cover based on satellite data of 2000 revealed that out of the total geographical area of biosphere reserve area, 68.1% lies in Bilaspur district followed by Anuppur (16.2%) and Dindori (15.7%). The land use analysis indicates that the forests constitute 66.31% of the area (2423.54 sq. Km), while agricultural lands constitute 34.03% (1305.00 sq. Km) and wastelands are about 1.36% covering 52.22 sq. Km only. The rest of the area is built up land (0.28%), water bodies (1.03 %) and other uses (0.11%), totaling 1.42% of the total area. Under the forest category, maximum area is covered by dense forest with 64.20 % of total geographical area, open forest (0.30%) and degraded forests (1.80%). Open forests are found mainly in hilly and undulating tracts and fringes of forests boundary villages. The degraded forests are mainly confined on steep slopes, mining areas and human habitations.

The forest area of the Achanakmar-Amarkantak biosphere reserve represents tropical deciduous vegetation and can be classified into Northern Tropical Moist Deciduous and Southern Dry Mixed Deciduous forests (Champion & Seth, 1968).

The area is "Genetic Express Highway" linking two biological Hot Spots namely Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas and also serves as confluence point for northern and southern type of vegetation. It is rich in plant diversity as combination of different climatic and edaphic conditions at various altitudes give rise to rich and luxuriant vegetation which is one of a few richest in Central India. Based on the studies carried by State Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur in 1995 on behalf of EPCO, the region is abode of various species belonging to thallophytes, bryophytes and pteridophytes apart from the gymnosperms and angiosperms.

A total of more than thousand species (996 + unidentified species) spread over 151 plant families have been reported from the area. The thallophyte, bryophyte, pteridophyte families support 95 species, which is an indicator of the extent of biodiversity and the comparatively good trophic status, as these primitive forms are the quickest to disappear under adverse conditions. In angiosperm, a total of 656 species belonging to 385 genera covering 103 families of dicotyledonous and 228 species belonging to 119 genera covering 24 families of monocotyledonous have been identified. Out of the 15 species of gymnosperms planted in the past few years, most of them have adopted and growing well in the region.

The percentage of dicotyledons and monocotyledons species with respect to total angiospermic species in the area is 74.17% and 25.83%, respectively against their respective world flora of 81.30% and 18.70%, which concludes that monocot percentage in BR area is higher than their global average. This is due to large number of grasses found in the BR area. This also indicates slightly high evolutionary rates amongst these plants.

Over 25 species of pteridophytes have been reported. Some of the important species of ferns viz., Selaginella ciliaris, Selaginella longipila, Equisetum debile, Aleuritopteris farinosa, Pteris quadriaurita, Ceratopteris thalickrioides, Blechnum orientale, Asplenium cheilosorum, osmunda sp., Cyclosorus parasiticus, Athyrium falcatum, Tectaria macrodonta, Lygodium flexuosum, Ophioglossum reticulatum etc., are commonly found in this area. Most of the ferns are terrestrial in habit and growing deep inside the ravines in the Sal forest habitat except some semi-aquatic ferns viz., Marsilea minuta and M. quadrifolia commonly found in the ponds in the area. Ophioglossum reticulatum, Lygodium flexuosum, Asplenium cheilosorum, Osmunda sp., Equisetum debile and Selaginella species are rarely found in the forest localities of the area.

Drosera , an insectivorous species, is found in the plateau of Amarkantak near origin place of mighty river Narmada, covering about 1 sq km area is named as 'Drosera plateau'.

Amogst angiospermic species, Thalictrum sp., Dillenia pentagyna, Cocculus hirsutus, Flacourtia indica, Talinium portulacifolium, Tamarix ericoides, Abelmoschuus ficulneus, Hibiscus subdariffa, Corchorus fascicularis, Grewia rothii, Biophytum sp., Oxalis sp., Tropaeolum majus, Gloriosa superba, Curcuma aromatica, Dioscorea sp., Chlorophytum tuberosum, Curculago orchioides, Hypercum japonicum, Cayratia pedata, Rotala maxicana, Pimpinella heyneana, Justicea betonica, Epipogon roseum, Malaxis mackinonii, Amorphophallus sp., Rhynchospora sumarginata, Myriophyllum oligonthum, Ceropegia hirsuta, etc, are observed to be rare in the area. The places where these species are met with are Kapildhara, Sonmunda, Amadoh, Divdhara, Lamni valley, Achanakmar, Panarpani, Sarasdol etc.

Among the planted gymnosperms, most of them are localized in the amarkantak plateau and have adapted to the local environmental conditions of the area. These can be treated as endemic species in these localities, including Cupressus torulosa, Thuja oreintalis, Araucaria bidwilli, Pinus caribbea, P. elliotti,P. gregaii, P. kesiya, P. mountzumae, P. oocarpa , P. patula, P. ponderosa, P. pseudostrobus, P. roxburghii, P. serotina,Cedrus deodara,Juniperus sp. and Taxodium sp., and can be gene bank amongst Gymnospermic species.

More than 105 species of medicinal plants have been reported in the area. Out of them 25 species are rare.

The faunal composition represents the Deccan peninsular zone of the Biogeographical classification of India by Rodgers & Panwar (1988). The Achanakmar sanctuary has a much better population of wildlife than the other reserved forest areas included in the biosphere reserve, due to the better protection and improved habitat conditions resulting from conservation actions therein. As per 2004 census 26 tigers, 46 panthers, 28 bears, 1936 Chitals, 1369 Sambhars, 376 barking deer, 552 bison (gaur), have been reported from Achanakmar sanctuary. The multiple use forests are heavily grazed and along the periphery exploited for fuel, minor produce and even usual forestry operation, all rather unsettling to wildlife. Yet, there are important species like the black buck, Chinkara, wolves, foxes and jackals outside the reserved forests in village lands and wastelands, which are important for conservation.

Tiger being the top carnivore is generally confined to the deep forests of wildlife sanctuary and adjoining forests of Dindori and Anuppur forest division. Similarly panthers are found to be well distributed in the area. Other wild animals, frequently found in the area are spotted deer, Sambhar, bison, wild boar, monkeys, etc.

Giant squirrels and flying squirrels (65 nos) are also seen in this area. Giant squirrels are observed to be found in the deep valleys along the Nallah, near Kabir chabutra in Dindori forest division. Red jungle fowl are also commonly found in almost all localities.

The variety of vegetational spectrum, sylvan expanse, scatter of water sources and wetlands and the climatic range from warm humid to cool and dry in the plains and hills topped by Amarkantak plateau offer a complete gamut of habitat niches to bird life. A total of 170 species under 51 families have been reported from the area without claiming to be anywhere near a complete compendium.

More than 13 species of snakes and lizards along with several sp. of frogs (cricket frog, burrowing frog, tree frog, ornate narrow mouthed frog, toad, bull-frog etc.) were also reported from the region.

The area is largely of agricultural rural settings with preponderance of forests indicative of its inter land-situation under 7 developmental blocks of 3 civil districts. The total area of AABR covers a total of 416 villages and 2 urban agglomerations (Annex-XV). Out of the total villages 349 falls under revenue villages and remaining 67 falls under forest village category. In Madhya Pradesh there is no urban agglomeration as per 1991 census. Out of total villages of the BR area 171(74 in Dindori and 97 in Anuppur) falls in MP and remaining 245 villages fall in Chhattisgarh. In Madhya Pradesh, there are only 10 forest villages all located in Dindori district.

Total population of the area is 3, 56,027 (2001 Census) of which 37.50 is located within MP and 62.5 % in Chhattisgarh. Of the total population of BR 59.2 % belong to Schedule Tribes (ST) and 7.7 % Schedule castes. Out of total population falling in MP ST population covers 74.0 % and SC population cover 3.6 % where as the ST and SC population is 50.7 % and 10.5 %, respectively, out of total population falling in Chhattisgarh state.

The Sex ratio in the area is far above than the national average figure as 978/1000 male. The literacy rate is 54.3.

Achanakmar-Amarkantak biosphere reserve has very high concentration of tribal population. Some of the major tribal communities found in the region are Gonds and their sub tribes like Madia, Mudia, Gurva, Agariya and Rajgond. Other tribes are Baigas, Kol, Kanwar and Pradhans.

The tourist in flow records specially from Amarkantak plateau showed a huge increase in their number as 5, 73,014 in 1994-95 to 12,72,041 in 2002 with a majority of domestic tourists and followed the same trend so far in view of upgraded lodging and transportation facilities in the area. The most of the places of tourist's attraction located at Amarkantak plateau and in Achanakmar sanctuary. The scenic spots at Amarkantak include Chaura Dadar, Kabir Ka Chabutra, Durgdhara and Sambhoodhara, Sonemuda, temples of Narmada origin, etc and in Achanakmar sanctuary, Rakshasakh, Shinhawal Sagar and Mendri Sarai fall in this category. The religious places in the biosphere reserve area include Narmada temple, Mai Ki Bagia, Sone Muda Temple, Sidhi Vinayak and Paras Vinayak Pataleswar Mahadev and Shiv temple (Jaleshwar) at and around Amarkantak and Nagahra in Achanakmar Sanctuary.

Rangmahal at Amarkantak and Pandwani Talab and Lakshmandongri in Achanakmar sanctuary also attracts tourists as historical places in the area.

The year wise funds provided by the Ministry of Environment & Forests for implementation of management action plan is given below.

Some of the project related to 2005-06 and most of the projects related to 2006-07 are under execution by various line field deptt./ organisation.

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