SACRED GROVES OF BADAMPAHAR FOREST RANGE, RAIRANGPUR FOREST DIVISION, ODISHA, INDIASubhadra Barik, Parvez, Arun Kumar Mishra, Sadhana Sewak and Ashutosh Dey
The worship practices of indigenous people represent a symbiotic relationship between human beings and nature. Since old times conservation of biodiversity and natural resources has been an identical part of diverse cultures in different ways. Sacred groves are those patches of trees on forest land that are protected by local and Indigenous people with religious perspective and connotations. These are tracts of virgin forests with highly rich diversity, which have been protected by the traditional societies and indigenous communities since ages for their cultural and religious beliefs. Every sacred grove caries own myths, lore and legends which form the integral part of the sacred groves. These groves are distributed across the globe, and are diverse culturally. It recognizes them in different ways encoding various rules and regulations for their protection. India is rich in culture and tradition where sacred groves occur in different parts of Indian sub-continent viz., Central India, Western India, North-east India, etc. particularly where the tribal and ethnic communities live. Sacred groves play a vital role in biodiversity conservation and management. Several plants and animal species that are threatened in the wild are still well conserved in some of the groves. It also emphasizes that a number of medicinal plant species that are uncommon in wild forest lands, are abundant in many sacred groves. Furthermore, rare, threatened, endangered and endemic species are often concentrated in these groves. The religious belief of tribal and local communities plays an impressive role in utilization and conservation of flora and fauna of the particular region. Although, by the passage of time, adequate number of changes have taken place in the extension of the sacred groves, in their vegetation structure, peopleâs perception towards them and religious belief. The current study focused on documentation of all the sacred grooves of Badampahar Forest Range along with their floral and faunal composition. The study also aimed on documentation of all the traditional social beliefs associated to every listed sacred grove.