There is also a proposal to carve out an acre dedicated to local flora and fauna in every village of the state.

Plans are afoot to set up biodiversity parks in Ludhiana and Bathinda. There is also a proposal to carve out an acre dedicated to local flora and fauna in every village of the state.

Dr Jatinder Kaur Arora, member secretary, Punjab Biodiversity Board, made these announcements at the state-level consultation workshop on national biodiversity targets organised by the board here on Thursday.

The workshop brought together people working in the field of biodiversity from all parts of Punjab to brainstorm the state’s contribution to India’s national report on Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The motley group of nature lovers included Umendra Dutt, a well-known evangelist of organic farming, Varinder Kumar, a schoolteacher from Faridkot who stakes out lesser-known species, Dr Rajesh Kumar, principal of DAV College, Amritsar, who has penned a book on the trees of the Holy City, Dr Manjari Jain, a scientist from Indian Institute of Science Education and research (IISER) who’s recorded the sounds of bats, and Nikhil Sanger, an honorary wildlife warden from Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, who is going all out to save the snakes.

Dr Paramjit Singh, director of Botanical Survey of India headquartered at Kolkata, set the tone for the meeting when he pointed out Punjab’s dwindling share in the national biodiversity. “Out of 3 lakh species of plants known so far, 49,000 can be found in India and only 1,200 in Punjab.”

The state, he said, does not have a very diverse biodiversity but its health is very important for the socio-economic wellbeing of the state.

“We are leaders in crop production, so we must showcase at least one case study in the national biodiversity report,” said Singh, who was dismayed at the urban sprawl he spotted from the air this morning.

Dr Roshan Sunkaria, principal secretary, science, technology and environment, emphasised how the state is trying to revive soil health by spreading awareness. “In this paddy season, we have brought down the consumption of urea by one lakh tonnes.”

Sunkaria called for setting up biodiversity parks in every district besides underlining the need to quantify the efforts made in this field.

A rare bird and tree

The meeting unveiled the posters of a rare bird and tree found in Punjab. On the verge of extinction in the state, Tecomella undulata (desert teak), called ‘rahoora’ in Punjabi, is an evergreen tree with fern-like leaves and bell-shaped flowers in peach, red and yellow.

The other poster showcased a pretty long-tailed bird called Rufous-vented grass babbler, commonly called ‘Dariyai serdi’. Senior scientist Gurharminder Singh said this “near-threatened species” was first spotted by a visitor from Goa. Both the bird and the tree were photographed by Varinder Kumar, head teacher at Machaki Mal Singh in Faridkot.

Source: August 10, 2018, Hindustan Times