Conservation of biological diversity
Dr. Banarsi Lal
Every year 22nd of May is celebrated as the Biological Diversity Day across the globe to increase the understanding and awareness on biodiversity issues. On this day awareness about preserving the endangered habitats is created among the people. A wide range of events are organised globally to increase the understanding of the important role of biodiversity for our present and future generations. On this day information is disseminated to the people on biodiversity through schools, colleges, universities, newspapers, radio, television, internet etc. Exhibition and seminars are arranged for the students, professional and general public, movies on biodiversity are telecasted, trees are planted, literature on biodiversity is translated in local dialect, endangered species are preserved, competitions among the children on biodiversity etc. This day is an observance and not a public holiday. Biological diversity encompasses the variety of all life on the earth. Species diversity refers to the numbers and kinds of living organisms, genetic diversity refers to the genetic variation within a population of species and ecosystem diversity which is the variety of habitats, biological communities and ecological processes that occur in the biosphere. The biodiversity we observe today is the outcome of over 3.5 billion years of evolutionary history, shaped by the natural processes. Biodiversity forms the web of life of which we are an integral part and upon which we are fully dependent. Biological diversity is the natural biotic capital of the earth which affects all of us. Human beings derive the supply of food, medicines, energy and many industrial products from biological resources.
At Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 state and government leaders agreed on a strategy for sustainable development at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as “The Earth Summit”. Sustainable development is a way to meet the needs of people all over the world and ensuring that planet earth will remain healthy and viable for future generations. One of the most important agreements reached during the Earth Summit was the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity came into action on 29th December, 1993.Every year each anniversary of this date was designated as the International Day for Biological Diversity. From 2001 onwards the date of this celebration was moved to 22nd May due to the number of holidays that fall in late December. Each year, the International Day for Biodiversity focuses on a particular theme. The theme of 2017 International Day for Biodiversity is biodiversity and climate change. This theme has been chosen to coincide with the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly. Biodiversity provides an important foundation for many aspects of tourism at the level of species and ecosystems. Many issues addressed under the Convention on Biological Diversity directly affect the tourism sector. A well-managed tourist sector can contribute significantly by reducing threats and sustain wildlife populations and biodiversity values. Celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity under this theme therefore provides an opportunity to raise awareness and action towards the important contribution of sustainable tourism both in the economic growth and to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The theme also provides a unique opportunity to contribute in the ongoing initiatives such as the Sustainable Tourism Programme.
Global concern about loss of species and ecosystems found expression in the International Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD, one of the key agreements adopted during the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, is the first comprehensive global agreement which addresses all aspects relating to biodiversity. This Convention, which has near universal membership 193 countries as its Parties, sets out commitments for maintaining the world’s ecological underpinnings, while pursuing economic development. India is the party to the CBD. The Convention, while reaffirming sovereign rights of nations over their biological resources, establishes the major goals such as the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.
India is one of the richest nations in the world in terms of biological diversity. India has 15,000 species of flowering plants, 969 species of birds, 389 species of reptiles and 317 species of mammals. India has relatively large number of frogs, salamanders and their kith and kin. Brazil is the most biologically diverse nation in the world. India stands 10th in terms of biological diversity. Some parts of the country are very rich due to a variety of natural causes in biological diversity and some are less. Two of India’s mountain ranges, the Eastern Himalaya and the Western Ghats have been designated among the world’s eighteen hot spots of biodiversity. The Eastern Himalayas have around 35,000 endemic species of higher plants, 20 endemic species of reptiles and 25 endemic species of amphibians. The Western Ghats have 1,600 endemic species of flowering plants, seven endemic species of mammals, 91 endemic species of reptiles and 84 endemic species of amphibians. Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the third most significant area of biodiversity in India with 144 species of flowering plants and 75 species of land snails that do not occur elsewhere in the world.
Loss of biodiversity in all parts of the country has increased alarmingly and many wildlife and plant species are on the verge of extinction. Governments and non-government organisations should make the efforts to protect the biodiversity. We should understand that biodiversity is the foundation for the life and for the essential services provided by ecosystems. It ensures people’s livelihoods and sustainable development in all realms of socio-economic activity, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism. The increasing population, rapid urbanisation, deforestation and over-exploitation of natural resources are the main causes of the biodiversity loss. Biodiversity loss can be checked by conserving and protecting the wildlife and plant species, restoring ecosystems and promoting sustainable use of natural resources. Special trainings on biodiversity conservation should be conducted. Preventing biodiversity loss should be a national responsibility with priority. Biodiversity is the foundation for the life and for the essential services provided by ecosystems. It underpins peoples’ livelihoods and sustainable development in all realms of socio-economical activity, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism etc. There is need to priorities prevention of threatened species firstly from becoming extinct by protecting them from threats such as habitat loss due to unplanned urbanisation, population growth and pollution. Extinction of different species and gradual changes in ecological communities is a natural phenomenon. With the human activities, the pace of extinction has increased dramatically. Ecosystems are being fragmented or eliminated and several species are in extinction. The fragmentation, degradation and loss of habitats are posing serious threat to the biological diversity. Such kinds of losses are irreversible and pose a threat to our well being. Living beings depend on food crop, medicines and other biological resources. There is urgent need to mainstream the