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Categories of Protected areas in India

Protected areas in India

  1. National parks: IUCN Category II

India’s first national park was Hailey National Park, now Jim Corbett National Park, established in 1935. By 1970, India had 5 national parks; today it has 103 national parks. All national park lands encompass a total 40500.13 km2, comprising 1.23% of India’s total surface area. Out of these, 6 have been designated as World Heritage site by UNESCO, viz.

National Park State
Kaziranga NP Assam
Manas NP Assam
Sundarvan West Bengal
Nanda Devi NP Uttrakhand
Keoldeo NP Rajasthan
Great Himalayan NP Himachal Pradesh
  1. Animal sanctuaries: IUCN Category IV

Any area other than area comprised with any reserve forest or the territorial waters can be notified by the State Government to constitute as a sanctuary if such area is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural. or zoological significance, for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife or its environment. Some restricted human activities are allowed inside the Sanctuary area details of which are given in CHAPTER IV, WPA 1972.

There are 536 existing wildlife sanctuaries in India covering an area of 118,005 km2, which is 3.59 % of the geographical area of the country (National Wildlife Database, May, 2016).

Among these are several Tiger Reserves, Bird sanctuaries, etc.

  1. Biosphere reserves:
  • Corresponds to IUCN Category V of Protected Areas
  • It protects larger areas of natural habitat (than a National Park or Animal Sanctuary)
  • It often includes one or more National Parks and/or preserves, along with buffer zones that are open to limited economic activities.
  • Protection is granted not only to the flora and fauna of the protected region, but also to the human communities who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life. Animals areprotected and saved
  • As on June, 2016, India has 18 Biosphere Reserves; of which 10 are covered under MAB programme of UNESCO.
  1. Reserved and protected forests: IUCN Category IV or VI, depending on protection accorded

These are forested lands where logging, hunting, grazing and other activities may be permitted on a sustainable basis to members of certain communities. In reserved forests, explicit permission is required for such activities. In protected forests, such activities are allowed unless explicitly prohibited. Thus, in general reserved forests enjoy a higher degree of protection with respect to protected forests.

  1. Conservation and community reserves: IUCN Category V and VI respectively):

These are areas adjoining existing protected areas which are of ecological value and can act as migration corridors, or buffer zone. Conservation reserves are designated government owned land from where communities may earn a subsistence, while community reserves are on mixed government/private lands. Community reserves are the only privately held land accorded protection by the government of India.

  1. Village and panchayat Forests : IUCN Category VI

These are forested lands administered by a village or a panchayat on a sustainable basis, with the habitat, flora and fauna being accorded some degree of protection by the managing community.

  1. Private protected areas

These are regions which are owned by an individual or an organisation / corporation not affiliated to the government or a communal body. Even though Indian legislation does not provide for protection of such areas, some NGOs are using land trusts to help in the conservation effort, and providing limited means of protection.

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