English Story / Documentary

 

FORESTS OF WEST BENGAL

by Shruti Maity

The position of West Bengal in the map of India, has proved that it is the state which comprises the India. Except the desert, this state is enriched with huge tourism attractions like the hill views, terai the foothill of the Himalaya, historical places, plateau, birth places of lots of people who are Bengal’s pride, so many pilgrimage places, sea beaches, rivers, waterfalls, water reservoirs or dams, modern cities, art-sculptures and finally, the forests. About the last one I want to share some information with you. This state is situated on the tropical temperate zone, so it must have varieties of flora and fauna.

A state having different grasslands, wetlands and estuarine, so many rivers and river beds, about 650 kms of coastal and marine ecosystems and the most attractive 6700 kms of mangroves, is certainly very much enriched with the flora and fauna. West Bengal have only 14% of forest area among the total area of the state and only 4% among the whole country, but it is so much enriched in both flora and fauna, for its geographical position.

In West Bengal, the north part have oak, pine, conifer, rhododendron, orchids. The western part have much more sal, segun, palash trees. The western coastal region have cashew trees, but the eastern coastal region have sundari, goran, geon trees. West Bengal Forest Department has found 10 different types of forests according to the vegetation and flora. Namely, Northern tropical wet evergreen forests, Northern sub-tropical semi evergreen forests, North India moist deciduous forests, Littoral & swamp- the mangrove forests, Littoral & swamp- tropical seasonal forests, Northern tropical dry deciduous forests, Northern sub-tropical broad-leaved wet hill forests, Northern montane wet temperate forests, East Himalayan moist temperate forests and Sub alpine forests. See how many varieties are there in our state! Is not this so beautiful? No other state of our country has these varieties!

The faunal species are also very much variable. We are proud of Royal Bengal Tigers. But other than this, our state has so many rare, endangered, vulnerable animals and birds too. Like-clouded leopard, red panda, Batagur terrapin, Goliath heron, leopard, jungle cat, golden cat, Olive ridley, marbled cat, Bengal florican, fishing cat, Indian elephant, Pygmy hog, estuarine crocodile, gaur, leopard cat, spotted deer, Assamese macaque, great pied hornbill, python, black necked crane, Ganges river dolphin, Himalayan black bear, woodpeckers, Indian rhinoceros, barking deer, serow, king cobra and so many.

So, this state now has 6 National Parks, 13 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 1 Biosphere Reserve. The National Parks are- Buxa Tiger Reserve (Jalpaiguri), Gorumara (Jalpaiguri), Neora Valley (Darjeeling), Singhalila (Darjeeling), Jaldapara (Jalpaiguri) and Sunderbans (South 24 Pgs). The Wildlife sanctuaries are- Ballavpur (Birbhum), Bethuadahari (Nadia), Bibhutibhusan/Parmadan (North 24 Pgs),

Haliday Islands (South 24 Pgs), Jorepokhri (Darjeeling), Lothian

Islands (South 24 Pgs), Mahananda (Darjeeling), Mayurjharna

Elephant Reserve (Paschim Medinipur and Bankura), Narendrapur

(South 24 Pgs), Raiganj (North Dinajpur), Ramnabagan (Burdwan),

Sajnekhali (South 24 Pgs), Senchal (Darjeeling). The last one is the only Biosphere Reserve- Sunderbans. We Bengalis are really proud of this place as because it was included in the World Network of

Biospheres by UNESCO in November, 2001. So this is a World

Heritage Site.

Now an open question to all the readers, how many of these protected forests did you visit? Just count and I am sure the numbers are very few. This is the high time to visit the beautiful forests of West Bengal as forest tourism now-a-days has become very popular. In this relation, I would like to share one little information that, our state animal is fishing cat, state bird is white breasted kingfisher, state tree is alstonia and state flower is night flowering jasmine.

Our state also has so many gardens and parks. Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden or simply Botanical Garden at Howrah district is one among the famous ones which is our big pride and has created history in the world. Very few know about this place. It has the Great Banyan tree aged around 300 years and the garden itself is 228 years old. This is the 3rd biggest conservatory garden in the world. So, it can be said with pride that

West Bengal has a real treasure of forests. Only we have to rediscover this by travelling.