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The lid on Hyd’s rich biodiversity heritage

Hyderabad: On the International Day for Biological Diversity (May 22), Hyderabad, the City of Pearls, proudly showcases its biodiversity heritage. Located in the Deccan Plateau region, it has the distinction of being the only city in India to have assessed and published the City Biodiversity Index (CBI) twice within a decade, underscoring the city’s commitment to biodiversity conservation.

Hyderabad’s score on the CBI improved significantly, marking an increase of 58 percent. The improvement highlights the city government’s strong emphasis on mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in the city.

The latest CBI provides a comprehensive assessment of the city’s biodiversity management and ecological health, structured around three key components: native biodiversity, ecosystem services and biodiversity management. The CBI acts as a crucial tool for monitoring and improving key ecological details, ensuring biodiversity conservation, sustainability and quality of life in a city.

The Hyderabad CBI, developed by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, South Asia, with support from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and several local biodiversity experts and organizations, reveals the extensive variety of flora and fauna that thrive in the tropical climate zone of the city. From the scattered forest trails to the Musi River, the CBI explores Hyderabad’s ecological wealth and commitment to preserving its natural heritage.

“The CBI is an important tool for a city like Hyderabad and emphasizes that biodiversity is crucial in the process of becoming a world-class city. GHMC initiatives such as ‘Haritha Haram’, lake conservation, increasing forest cover and improving urban lung spaces have significantly increased urban biodiversity. “By positioning Hyderabad as a leader in biodiversity conservation, CBI directly supports the objectives of India’s National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) by conserving biodiversity and protecting critical ecosystems,” said Emani Kumar, Executive Director, ICLEI South Asia.

The CBI for Hyderabad reveals an impressive range of species. The city is home to 315 bird species, including the Indian peacock, black-headed ibis, bar-headed goose and the greater flamingo. Plant diversity includes 1,665 species, with native species such as teak, sandalwood and neem, and introduced species such as the African tulip tree and the rain tree. Hyderabad is also home to 141 butterfly species including the Blue Mormon, Common Rose and Crimson Rose. The diversity of the reptiles includes 53 species such as the Indian Rock Python, Bengal Monitor and Mugger Crocodile. The city’s aquatic life has 64 species of fish, including the Deccan Mahseer and Indian Glassy Fish.

“Being a clear self-assessment tool to monitor urban biodiversity, CBI for Hyderabad has highlighted crucial indicators on native species, ecosystem services and biodiversity management. This objective framework has helped city leaders plan, manage and measure biodiversity, aligning with city growth in a sustainable and balanced way. The illustrated natural resource map and green cover studies by ICLEI have further provided detailed insights into Hyderabad’s ecosystem services while supporting strategic conservation and planning efforts,” said Dr. Monalisa Sen, Senior Program Coordinator (Biodiversity), ICLEI.

The illustrated natural resources map for Hyderabad, developed by ICLEI and funded by the GHMC, depicts Hyderabad’s diverse ecosystems, from lakes and rock formations to green lungs and flora and fauna. The map emphasizes the importance of protecting biodiversity in urban environments and highlights the city’s natural resources.

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