30 May : Nokrek Biosphere Reserve in Garo Hills district of Meghalaya which has been added to Unesco’s list of Worldwide Network of Biosphere Reserves has another distinction of having world’s first citrus gene sanctuary.According to scientists, Nokrek is also the only place in the world to have preserved the mother plant of oranges.
Unesco on Thursday included this biosphere reserve in its elite list with two other wildlife reserves in India – Simlipal in Orissa and Panchmarhi in Madhya Pradesh.
The 47-sq-km Nokrek Biosphere Reserve is home to a rare variety of citrus locally known as ‘memang narang orange of the spirits’, which is considered to be the most primitive and the progenitor of all other varieties of citrus plants in the world, forest officials said.
The mother germo plasm of Citrus Indica was discovered by researchers within Nokrek Range, which led to the establishment of the National Citrus Gene Sanctuary-cum-Biosphere Reserve here, they said.
A research conducted by Botanical Survey of India last year observed that a number of different species of plants were yet to be identified in the reserve which has unique bio-diversity with tribal populace.
Nokrek is a biodiversity hotspot teeming with wildlife like elephants, tiger, leopards and gibbons.
The UNESCO recognition is a shot in the arm for the conservation of natural resources and varied human culture of the area as funds for protection and conservation of Nokrek would be available from International Funding Agencies, sources said.
Till now there were only four sites in the Indian sub-continent which were recognized on the world network – Nilgiri, Gulf of Manner, Sundarbans and Nandadevi.
Altogether 22 new sites from 17 countries were added by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to its Worldwide Network of Biosphere Reserves yesterday, bringing the total number of such sites to 553.