• Fields of the Awards
Barnawapara Blooms From Timber Land to Tiger Land
by  Raja Chatterjee

Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary has a bewitching beauty that captivates the visitor. Gentle rolling hills and undulating valleys, drained by a number of rivers and rivulets are complemented by forests of varying shades and colours. It is a robust refuge for the bear, leopard, bison, sambar, spotted deer, chinkara, snakes, birds and butterflies, with a few tigers topping the list. This 244 sq. km sanctuary is crisscrossed by a road network of 318 kms, with watch-towers, waterholes and tourist facilities at regular intervals.

This wildlife sanctuary owes its name to the twin hamlets of Bar and Nawapara, nestling at the heart of the forest. Located at a distance of
70 kms. in the north-east of Raipur, the capital of the new Central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, Barnawapara was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1976. This charming nature heritage has a chequered history, evolving from a game hunting ground to a loggers' paradise to its present status as a sanctuary. Barnawapara with all its live assets, movable and immovable, has withstood the onslaught of guns and axes over the centuries to be finally embraced by a caring forest administration that healed her age-old wounds and brought honour to her adorable beauty. Barnawapara reciprocated this care by breaking out into a riot of life and ultimately bagging this award for conservation.

The sanctuary is on the central Indian highlands and falls on the famous Gondwana belt, bound by the rivers Bamdehi on the west and Jonk on the north-east. Both rivers are tributaries of the Mahanadi. The terrain inside the sanctuary is well drained today by countless streams, water bodies, channels and water harvesting structures. Fruits of water conservation done in the past couple of years have transformed the territory into varying shades of bright green.

The well stocked forest is predominantly dry deciduous, with inter-layer patches of bamboo breaks while moist deciduous and mixed forest type occur around the water courses and reservoirs. The forest chiefly comprises of the straight stemmed grand teak (Tectona Grandis), Sal (Shorea Robusta), Saja (Terminalia Tomentosa), Bija (Pterocarpus Marsupium), Ledia (Lagerstroemia Parviflora), Haldu (Adina Cordifolia), Dhaora (Anogeissus Latifolia), Salai (Boswellia Serrata), Aonla (Emblica Officinali) and Amaltas (Cassia Fistula). The forest bed is abundantly covered with a variety of grasses, herbs, shrubs, bushes and saplings. Large patches of bamboo breaks with a variety of species and dense undercover turns the forest's robe fashionable. The dazzling white Kulu tree(Sterculia Urens) is conspicuously scattered throughout the wild land.