Another Indian site gets heritage tag

The Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (GHNPCA), located in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, has been added to the World Heritage site list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

The decision was approved by the World Heritage Committee under a criteria which seeks to “contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation,” the Ministry of Culture said on Monday.

The 905.40 sq km Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area includes the upper mountain glacial and snow melt water source origins of the westerly flowing ‘Jiwanal’, ‘Sainj’ and ‘Tirthan’ Rivers and the north-westerly flowing Parvati River besides wildlife sanctuaries.

Situated at the confluence of Oriental and Palaearctic realms, the national park provides a unique opportunity for the species from both biogeographic regions to thrive, disperse and evolve.

The area is home to several “rare and threatened” species including the Western Tragopan, Chir Pheasant, Snow Leopard, Himalayan Musk Deer, Asiatic Black Bear, Himalayan Tahr, Blue Sheep and Serow. Some 25 threatened IUCN Red-listed plant species are recorded from the park.

The GHNP has more than 35 peaks that are higher than  5,000 metres and two are greater than 6,000 metres which taken together are arguably more exceptional than a few isolated higher peaks in the region, the ministry said.

The boundaries of the national park are contiguous with the recently established (2010) Khirganga National Park (710 sq km), the Pin Valley National Park (675 sq km) in Trans-Himalaya, Rupi-Bhabha Wildlife Sanctuary (503 sq km) in Sutlej watershed and Kanawar Wildlife Sanctuary (61 sq km).

“Together these four protected areas (PAs) add 1,949 sq km to the area around GHNP and its buffer zone, making the total contiguous protected area associated with the nominated property approximately 2,854.4 sq km not including the Ecozone. GHNP inscription would serve to expedite integration of other protected areas into a huge Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area,” the Ministry said.

The concept of environmental conservation in the Kullu Valley is very ancient. The names of many places in this valley commemorate saints who came here to meditate in the great sanctuary of Himalayas. Some of these sanctuaries are still preserved as sacred groves of trees.

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