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‘Srinagar’s biodiversity index’: A natural paradise in India’s northernmost capital

May 21, 2024

SRINAGAR: On this International Day for Biological Diversity, Srinagar, India’s northernmost capital city, stands out as a biodiversity haven nestled in the embrace of the Himalayas. Known for its picturesque landscapes, Srinagar is also a sanctuary of diverse flora and fauna thriving in its vibrant gardens, serene lakes, lush forests, and bustling waterways.

The City Biodiversity Index (CBI), released last year by Lt. Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, offers a comprehensive assessment of Srinagar’s biodiversity. Developed by ICLEI South Asia with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and in collaboration with the Jammu and Kashmir Biodiversity Council, the CBI underscores Srinagar’s commitment to conserving its natural heritage.

“The CBI for Srinagar directly supports India’s National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) goals such as conserving biodiversity, protecting critical ecosystems, and promoting equitable benefit-sharing with local communities. Additionally, it aligns with Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 15, which focuses on preserving terrestrial ecosystems and halting biodiversity loss. This integration strengthens Srinagar’s capacity to implement targeted conservation strategies, ensuring the city’s natural heritage is protected and resilient against environmental and urban pressures,” said Emani Kumar, Executive Director, ICLEI South Asia.

Srinagar’s CBI reveals an impressive array of species. The city boasts 172 bird species, including the Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Wigeon, Himalayan Bulbul, Great Cormorant, and Black Kite. The plant diversity includes 357 species, with native species like West Himalayan Fir, Sweet Flag, and Indian Horse Chestnut, alongside introduced species such as Oriental Plane and White Poplar. Srinagar’s butterfly population features 36 species, including the Plain Marbled Skipper, Large Cabbage White, Painted Lady, and Indian Fritillary. The city’s aquatic life is highlighted by 14 major fish species, including Chirruh snowtrout, Sattar snowtrout, and Aara gurun. Srinagar also hosts 13 mammal species, including the Jungle Cat, Eurasian Otter, and Asian Black Bear. Additionally, the CBI documents 139 parks managed by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, covering 13.9 hectares, along with several other parks managed by various agencies covering 201.6 hectares.

“This CBI is a comprehensive evaluation that on one hand documents a vast array of species while on the other acts as a vital instrument in our continuous quest to preserve these precious ecosystems. This index illustrates how urban areas can coexist sustainably with their natural environments. By grasping the unique challenges and opportunities in Srinagar, we are supporting the city administration to implement focused conservation strategies that maintain the ecological harmony of the region, ensuring its resilience amidst environmental changes and urban growth,” said Dr. Monalisa Sen, Senior Programme Coordinator (Biodiversity), ICLEI South Asia.

The Illustrated Natural Asset Map, developed under the INTERACT-Bio project, captures Srinagar’s diverse ecosystems, including streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and forests. Supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety, this map emphasizes the importance of biodiversity protection within urban settings. The map showcases Srinagar’s vital ecosystems and biodiversity, highlighting protected areas such as Dachigam National Park and the Zabarwan Hills, against the stunning backdrop of the Himalayas.

The CBI provides a structured approach to understanding and conserving urban biodiversity, ensuring sustainability and enhancing the quality of life in Srinagar. It serves as a crucial tool for monitoring and enhancing the city’s ecological health and biodiversity management.

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