The union ministry of environment, forests and climate change has sanctioned Rs 5.12 crore for the 'Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve' (CDBR) in Spiti region of tribal Lahaul and Spiti district that stretches over 7,770 square km.
The project aims at conserving the medicinal plants, rare wildlife species and natural water bodies found in the cold desert, which are being impacted by the climatic and the geographical changes.
The wildlife wing of the forest department had submitted the project under the Management Action Plan (MAP). The project, will be implemented through local committees, including the woman representatives from gram panchayats, over a period of five years.
The CDBR represents unique bio-physical features of trans-Himalayan ecosystem in Lahaul and Spiti district. It comprises the Pin Valley National Park, the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary and Chandertal Conservation Reserves.
The CDBR is the fourth largest biosphere reserve among the total 18 such reserves in the country.
Tabo monastery, one of oldest monasteries roofed on the Junipers wooden pillars which has been declared as a world heritage site, is the pride of Spiti.
"Efforts through implementation of the project shall be made for inclusion of the CDBR under the 'Man and Biosphere' (MAB) programme of UNESCO," said an official of the wildlife department.
The main components of the MAP project include awareness and capacity building of local communities and staff, improving infrastructural facilities, habitat restoration, biodiversity conservation, socio-economic development through promotion of farm cultivation and animal husbandry, non-conventional energy and fuel saving devices, water supply, cultivation of medicinal and aromatics plants.
The CDBR is mostly dominated by more than 500 herbaceous and shrub species. More than 118 species of medicinal and aromatic plants are found in the area. The notable shrub species are Junipers, Hippophae, Myricaria, Caragna, Rosa, Lonicera and Ephedra. The high-value medicinal species are Aconitum, Podophyllum, Swertia, Rheum, Thymus and Picrorrhiza.
The rare wildlife species found in the area are snow leopard, wolf, brown and black bear, blue sheep, Ibex, Tibetan gazelle, red fox, weasel, marmot, griffon, lammergeyer, golden eagle, and snow cock.
Besides the animal species, the project also focuses on conserving the soil and moisture in the area. It aims at preserving the natural water bodies in the cold deserts, which is being impacted by climatic and the geographical changes.
Under the project, there is a proposal to link the ambitious project initiated to protect the snow leopard in Spiti valley. This project had been launched in collaboration with Snow Leopard Trust and the Mongolian government.