Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Almost one-fifth of the area of Bhopal is covered with natural, restored and naturalised areas. City’s total area is 411 square km, of which 79 sq km (20%) is covered with lakes, forests, marshes, wetlands and green open spaces with natural vegetation. This gives it the highest score of 4 in Biodiversity Index.
According to Bhopal City Biodiversity Index report prepared by Wildlife Institute of India, Bhopal scores 45 out of 72 in 18 indicators, a fairly high score that shows that city has rich flora and fauna, which are well-protected.
Bhopal is the only city in the country, which has a National Park within its limits. Van Vihar National Park supports a wide diversity of flora and fauna. In addition, there are 14 city forests within Bhopal with a total area of 14.2 sq km. Then, there are Bhoj Wetlands spread across 32.01 sq km. Plants of 506 species are found in the city.
The report says that the wetland is a biodiversity hotspot as it supports a significant diversity of phytoplankton, zooplankton, macrophytes, wild and cultured fish. There are 18 water reservoirs in the city including Bhoj Wetlands.
Barkatullah University campus is rich in biodiversity. Spread across 350 acres, the campus supports more than 50 species of trees, 46 bird species, 24 butterfly and 26 odonate species.
About 266 species of birds are found in Van Vihar National Park alone. A total of 298 species of birds are found in the city among which 115 inhabit built-up area. A study carried out on butterfly around Kerwa reservoir reported 18 species of butterflies while a campus survey of butterflies in IIFM and Barkatullah University campuses reported 55 and 26 species respectively. A total of 85 species of butterflies are found in the city.
The city’s numerous lakes, predominantly Bhoj Wetlands, host a wide variety of migratory birds and aquatic fauna. In all, 37 fish species are found in Upper Lake and 53 species of fishes have been reported from Bhoj Wetlands. A wide reptilian diversity flourishes in city reservoirs, marshy lands and dams.