Banni Grassland – UPSC Prelims

  • Banni Grassland is situated near the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
  • It is considered to be the largest Grassland in Asia.
  • The grassland spreads over 2,618 kilometers and accounts for almost 45% of the pastures in Gujarat.
  • Formation: The land here was formed from the sediments that were deposited by the Indus and other rivers over thousands of years.
  • Ecosystem: Two ecosystems, wetlands and grasslands are juxtaposed in Banni.
  • Vegetation:
    • The vegetation in Banni is sparse and highly dependent on rainfall.
    • It is dominated by low-growing forbs and graminoids, many of which are halophiles (salt-tolerant), as well as scattered tree cover and scrub.
    • The grasslands were traditionally managed by a system of rotational grazing.
  • Flora and Fauna: The area is rich in flora and fauna with 192 species of plants, 262 species of birds, several species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
  • Reserve Forest: In 1955, the court notified the grassland will be a reserve forest. In, 2019, the NGT ordered to demarcate the boundaries of the Banni grassland and restricted non-forest activities.
  • Significance: Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has identified this grassland reserve as one of the last remaining habitats of the cheetah in India. Also, a possible reintroduction site for the species.
  • Why in news?
    • PM released a book named “Birds of Banni Grassland”
    • NGT Order:
      • The National Green Tribunal(NGT) has ordered all encroachments to be removed from Gujarat’s Banni grasslands within six months.
      • NGT directed that the Maldharis will continue to hold the right to conserve the community forests in the Banni Grasslands area.
      • These rights were granted to them as per the provisions in Section 3 of Forest Rights Act, 2006.

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