The Centre has proposed to declare Garo Hills Conservation Area (GHCA), straddling South and West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya as a World Heritage Site for the first time.
It has been nominated in the mixed-site category and kept in the tentative list. A mixed site contains prime features of natural and cultural significance.
The area of the site which has been nominated for the World Heritage Site is 337.47 sq kms. This total area comprises of Nokrek National Park (49.44 square km), Balpakram National Park (220 square km), Siju wildlife sanctuary (5.18 square km) and the reserve forests of Tura peak (4.19 square km), lmangiri (8.29 square km), Rewak (6.47 square km) and Baghmara (43.9 square km).
The nominated property has a remarkable variety of flora and fauna and can be considered as a biodiversity hotspot.
The Balpakram National Park has 52 speices of mammals of which 21 are carnivores. The Nokrek Biosphere Reserve has a large variety of wild fruit speices, specially citrus fruits. The germplasm of Citrus indica is conserved in-situ at the National Citrus Gene Sanctuary at Nokrek.
Apart from this, the whole area comprises of a huge variety of medicinal plants with 14 speices and 6 speices of rare medicinal plants having been found at Balkpakram and Nokrek respectively. The cave systems in the property has a rich historial evidence of biological evolution.
Garo hills conservator of forests PR Marak said,” Nokrek and Balpakram national parks have a unique landscape and geological formation and are associated with lore, custom and belief of the Garos and hence the proposal for World Heritage Site under the mixed category”.
The property has been compared to Western Ghats and Khangchendzonga National Park in terms of natural and cultural significance.