Study identifies Mangar forests as crucial bird habitat, calls for increased research and conservation

A brand new examine has discovered that the Aravalli forests in and round Faridabad’s Mangar village have turn out to be a vital habitat for birds, recording the presence of 219 species in a 17 sq. kilometre space. Specialists stated the diploma of biodiversity was comparable with that of different Aravalli forests within the Nationwide Capital Area (NCR), such because the Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Gurugram or the Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary in Delhi.

Findings of the examine, carried out by the Centre for Ecology Improvement and Analysis (CEDAR), validates the Haryana authorities’s 2016 resolution to inform the Mangar Bani hill forest and surrounding areas as a “no development zone” whereas offering a robust foundation for ramping up analysis and conservation efforts within the space.

The Mangar Bani (or sacred grove) is broadly considered the final remaining patch of native, old-growth Aravalli vegetation in Delhi-NCR, however doesn’t have the tag of a deemed forest, as per Supreme Courtroom orders. As such, the area has not been centrally notified as a forest underneath the Indian Forest Act, regardless of performing the ecological features of 1.

“Our report relies on the primary systematic survey of the birds of Mangar. The forest and surrounding panorama haven’t been comprehensively studied regardless of being a well-liked birding vacation spot for almost a decade. Our findings are important as a result of they reveal the conservation worth of Mangar forests, utilizing birds as organic indicators. The forests on this space don’t have sturdy authorized safety and our work will hopefully encourage steps in the suitable course,” stated Misha Bansal, mission fellow at CEDAR, who led the examine.

Primarily based on a year-long area survey carried out in 2019-20, along with 5 years price of information taken from eBird (a citizen-science initiative which maintains a repository of chicken sightings globally), Bansal and different members of the CEDAR workforce arrived at some key findings to determine the realm’s ecological significance.

As an example, Mangar was discovered to offer a breeding habitat for summer season migrants such because the Indian pitta and Indian paradise flycatcher. Each species are “tropical dry forest specialists”, which means that they’re significantly suited to native Aravalli habitats.

A number of different birds that aren’t so simply seen in Delhi had been additionally discovered within the examine space, which comprised not solely the Mangar Bani (about 2.66 sq. kms) but in addition the encircling forests, fields, plantations, village settlements, water our bodies and previous mining websites throughout the income boundaries of Mangar village.

These species embody the grey-bellied cuckoo, widespread rosefinch, crested bunting Tickell’s blue flycatcher, and Eurasian wryneck.

Researchers additionally famous that 5 nationally endangered raptor species, that are red-listed as endangered by the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature, have been seen in Mangar — together with the king vulture and Egyptian vulture.

Furthermore, six chicken species whose populations are believed to be in nationwide decline (based on the latest State of Indian Birds 2020 report) had been discovered to be “thriving” within the Mangar panorama. These embody the yellow-crowned woodpecker and short-toed snake eagle, amongst others.

“Our examine thus means that the Mangar panorama is an important habitat for birds of the Northern Aravallis of Haryana. The range of birds signifies good high quality forest and different sources accessible for birds,” stated the report. This declare is bolstered by the abundance of 27 “tropical dry forest specialist” species of birds, that are significantly suited to the native atmosphere.

Such birds make up 12.5% of Mangar’s chicken fauna, and are now not sighted continuously in Delhi. That is partly as a result of native scrub forest habitats are actually present in just a few websites throughout NCR, the report defined. The authors additionally famous: “A lot of the recorded dry forest specialists happen most abundantly in Mangar panorama as compared with three different forest habitats in Delhi-NCR. Additional, the recorded forest specialists are total uncommon in Delhi-NCR space (corresponding to Indian pitta), and one species (brown-capped pygmy woodpecker) is discovered solely in Mangar panorama.”

The upper frequency of dry forest specialists within the space, the researchers stated, was maybe the strongest bioindicator of ecological well being within the area. “These birds are primarily insectivores (feed on bugs), which in flip thrive solely the place the habitat is moist and well-vegetated. The presence of adequate water within the bani, together with a variety of microhabitats that the forest offers are creating situations which permit for a number of specialist species to thrive,” stated Ghazala Shahabuddin, senior fellow at CEDAR and one of many examine’s authors.

Regardless of the report’s constructive findings, researchers stated Mangar’s potential as a biodiversity hotspot stays unsure. “

Regardless of the report’s constructive findings, researchers stated tMangar’s potential as a biodiversity hotspot stays unsure. “There are usually not sufficient authorized safeguards for the Aravalli vary in Haryana which additionally apply to the Bani. Since Mangar Bani is in the course of a densely urbanised area, the anthropogenic stress on this ecosystem is kind of immense. There must be a scientific administration plan to information its future conservation,” added Shahabuddin, reiterating some extent made within the report.

When requested what diploma of conservation could be apt for Mangar’s forests, she stated: “The standard strategy of creating a sanctuary underneath the Wildlife Safety Act could be inappropriate right here, other than creating resistance domestically. As an alternative, we should always recognise the cultural heritage of the Gujjar neighborhood, which has to this point protected the forest and coexisted with wildlife. As an alternative, we might think about notifying the realm as a Biodiversity Heritage Web site, which might enable a variety of possession patterns inside it, together with personal, village commons and forest land however stop dangerous improvement actions.”

This view was echoed by Sunil Harsana, a researcher and Mangar resident, who additionally authored the examine. Harsana stated Mangar’s “no development zone” tag provides solely “weak safety” to the realm. In contrast to different mountainous ecosystems in India, corresponding to rainforests of the Japanese Himalayas or the Western Ghats, the Aravallis of Haryana stays extraordinarily accessible to actual property improvement, unlawful mining, and land seize.

“Our examine reveals that dry tropical forests can harbour wealthy biodiversity, however they’re additionally among the many most endangered habitats in India due to how accessible they’re. Banning development within the bani is an effective first step, however we want extra complete reforms for the longer term. There may be additionally an abundance of mammalian wildlife within the space along with birds. The whole ecosystem requires safety. Neighborhood help and development bans won’t be sufficient,” Harsana stated.

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