Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 27, 2022, 10:09

The Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserves is part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands territory. The reserve encompasses a massive part of the Great Nicobar islands.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands were announced to be developed as 'Maritime and Startup Hub' for the country in 2020. The project was qualified in the first stage and was recommended by EAC (Environment Appraisal Committee) for EIA (Environment Impact Studies). However, concerns have been raised over the NITI Ayog's ambitious project for the Great Nicobar islands, which could disrupt the environment and adversely impact it.

About the Nicobar Islands

The Nicobar Islands are situated in the Bay of Bengal, Eastern Indian Ocean, having an area of 711 square miles. The island is the home of 2 'Mongoloid,' the Nicobarese, and the Shompen. The Negrito is a tribe in the Nicobar islands believed to have arrived around 60,000 years back from Africa. All the tribes on this island are nomadic hunter-gatherers, consistently hunting monitor lizards wild pigs, fishes, and other creatures.

Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserves- Key Aspects

Surface Area

l 103,870 hectare

l Buffer zone: 34,877 hectares

l Transition zone: 5,300 hectare (marine); 10,070 hectare (terrestrial)

l Core area: 53,623 hectare

Administrative Authorities

Andaman and Nicobar Administration

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Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserves- Ecological Characteristics

The region is best known for its rich biodiversity, including 71 species of birds, 26 species of reptiles, 113 species of fishes, 14 species of mammals, 10 species of amphibians, and 650 species of angiosperms, gymnosperms, ferns, lichens, & bryophytes among others.

Furthermore, the island fosters an array of endemic and rare species such as Phalaenopsis Speciosa (Orchid) and Tree Fern, officially called Cyathea Albosetacea.

The place houses other endemic species that include 32 species of birds, 4 species of amphibians, 11 species of mammals, and 7 species of reptiles.

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Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserves- Socio-Economic Characteristics

The Shompen Tribe resides in the forests of the biosphere reserves. There are 200 Shompen tribe members circa (at present) to be living by the side of streams and rivers. The Nicobarese live along the coast in the Transition zone, while the Shompen hustles between the Core and Buffer zones.

It is estimated that the region comprises 300 Nicobarese residing in settlements along the west coast. However, all of them were relocated to Campbell Bay and the North coast after Tsunami devastated the West Coast completely.

The rich biodiversity of the place, coupled with its remarkable socio-economic characteristics makes the great Nicobar a place to cherish and protect. It remains to be seen whether the NITI Aayog project for the Nicobar islands will successfully develop them without harming their rich natural biodiversity severely.

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FAQs on Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve

Q1. Is The Great Nicobar a Biosphere Reserve?

Yes. The Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve harbours a broad spectrum of ecosystems comprising huge mountain ranges (Height of more than 642 meters), including Mt. Thullier, tropical wet evergreen forests, and coastal plains. No tourists are permitted to enter the place, but the place is noted for its rich biodiversity.

Q2. Is the Great India Biosphere Reserve the Biggest in India?

Although the Great India Biosphere Reserve is a massive reserve, it is not the biggest one. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the biggest reserve in India.

Q3. Who owns the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve?

The Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve is situated between the ancient naval route between Myanmar and India. The navy of the English East India Company visited the Andaman in 1789 and was linked to the Nicobar islands by the British administratively in 1872. Both sets of islands had been marked under the Indian territory since 1956.

Q4. Besides, the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve, how many Biosphere Reserves Exist in India?

There are 18 biosphere reserves in India, amongst which the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve is recognized prominently. Apart from this, 11 more reserves from India are recognized globally and featured under the Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme of UNESCO.

Q5. What are the Zones in the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve?

There are 3 zones in the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve -

  • Buffer zone
  • Core zone
  • Transition zone