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The giant Kaya Kalp Vriksh (Great Banyan Tree) in the remote village of Cholti Kheri, Khera Mandal block, Fatehgarh Sahib district, will be Punjab's first biodiversity heritage site, according to a notification issued by the state government.

Under Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act (BDA), 2002, the Punjab Biodiversity Board (PBB) has finalized a proposal to list this tree as a biodiversity heritage site (BHS). The tree is located on private property, but the landowners have willingly offered their land for the tree's declaration as a heritage site.

This tree is approximately 300 years old and is spread over 3.5 acres of land. It is believed that this tree represents a complete ecosystem that provides rich biodiversity, It has flourishing flora and fauna including peacocks, owls, and many other birds, reptiles such as snakes, monitor lizards, garden lizards, insects, arthropods, millipedes, nematodes, epiphytes, bryophytes, fungi, algae, and lichens. the site is being maintained and conserved with the active assistance of the Fatehgarh Sahib district administration and the Biodiversity Management Committee formed by the Board. 

Amita Prasad, IAS, additional secretary, Union ministry of environment, forest, and climate change, visited the tree site at the invitation of the Board. She commended the district administration for recognizing the community-based conservation model used at the site as the best practice and declared that she would implement this model in other states as well.

According to Dr. Gurharminder Singh, the Board has already started the procedure to have the location recognized as the first biological heritage site of Punjab. The village had already approved a panchayat-level decision designating the Kayak Kalp Variksh as a BHS and had also secured its management and conservation with the support of the PBB.

The locals believe that the tree has spiritual powers. According to popular belief, anyone who attempted to stop the spread of the tree in the past had to face grave misfortunes.

The Paris-based production house "Camera Lucida" recently produced a TV series titled "Tree Stories: Most Remarkable Trees of the World" featuring the site.



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