West Bengal is a north eastern Indian state of amazing extremes. It stretches from the Himalayas through the Gangetic plains to the Bay of Bengal over the course of about 483 km and displays almost all the geophysical features and its associated biodiversity that the Indian subcontinent boasts of. The northernmost district of Darjeeling is cradled in the laps of the colossal Himalayas, followed by the submontane terai region which supports a huge diversity of life forms, the western districts feature a semi-arid region of red lateritic soil with dry flanks of Chhotanagpur plateau, low hills and sal-segun forests, the eastern districts represent vast riverine flood plains on both sides of the river Bhagirathi and its northern and western tributaries and in the southern most part the Bay of Bengal caress the deltaic regions of Sundarban mangroves and coastal part of Midnapur.
Nature has bestowed our state with a treasure house of bioresources, a lot of which has already been discovered, utilized and lost forever, a lot is still in use and a lot remains to be unfolded and discovered. Covering just 2.7% of the Indian landmass it is home to 12.27% of Indian biodiversity known till date. The state has more than 7000 species of described flora including bacteria, algae, fungi, bryophytes, pteridophytes and angiosperms and more than 10000 species of described fauna. It is also of utmost importance to be aware that it is not only the resources as units of bioresource treasure that we possess, but it is also the traditional knowledge and information associated with these bioresources that we treasure as our wealth. The state?s rich and living traditions are typically folk in character and are closely related to the area?s topographical conditions.
Our state is the third largest economy in the country and supports the highest density of population too. The image has always been as one of the most progressive states of India. Agriculture is the main source of income for the people. About 70% of the total population depends on farming for their livelihood. The state has 3% cultivable land which accounts for 8% of the total food grains produced in the nation. Rice is the state's principal food crop. Other major food crops include wheat, maize, pulses, oil seeds, sugarcane and potatos. Jute is the main cash crop of the region. Tea is also produced commercially and the State has also acquired a Geographical Indication for its world renowned Darjeeling Tea.
The forests of West Bengal are classified into seven categories viz., Tropical Semi-Evergreen Forest, Tropical Moist Deciduous Forest, Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest, Littoral and Swampy Forest, Sub-Tropical Hill Forest, Eastern Himalayan Wet Temperate Forest and Alpine Forest. The state has a recorded forest land of 11,879 sq. km., of which 7,054 sq. km. is Reserved Forest, 3,772 sq. km. is Protected Forest and 1,053 sq. km. is Unclassed State Forest, thus constituting 13.38% of the geographical area of the state. Under the conservation and protection regime the State has one Biosphere Reserve, two Tiger Reserves, five National Parks and 15 Wildlife Sanctuaries.
As per the Section -7 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, accessing bio-resources and associated traditional knowledge of the state of West Bengal requires prior intimation to the West Bengal Biodiversity Board. The intimation to the Board should be given in specified format (Form-I & Form-A) along with requisite Application Fee.