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India can become a Biodiversity Champion
The importance of biodiversity was strongly articulated at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada.
In the same conference, 188 country representatives adopted an agreement to “halt and reverse” biodiversity loss by conserving 30% of the world’s land and 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, known as the 30×30 pledge.
What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the number and variety of living organisms present in a specific geographical region. It includes various plants, animals and microorganisms, the genes they have and the ecosystems formed by them.
India currently hosts 17% of the planet’s human population and 17% of the global area in biodiversity hotspots
India can guide the planet in becoming biodiversity champions.
What are challenges related to Biodiversity conservation?
Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events are affecting ecosystems and altering the distribution and behavior of many species.
Human activities such as deforestation, urbanization, and infrastructure development are leading to the loss and fragmentation of natural habitats.
Unsustainable use of natural resources such as overfishing, hunting, and harvesting of timber and other forest products can lead to the decline or extinction of species.
Non-native species introduced by humans can compete with and displace native species, disrupt ecosystem functioning, and spread diseases.
Which programmes recently launched by India have potential to conserve Biodiversity?
Green Growth (Budget 2023)
National Mission for Green India
Green Credit Programme
How should these programmes be implemented?
A science-based and inclusive monitoring programme is critical for the success of efforts and for documentation and distillation of lessons learnt for replication, nationally as well as globally.
Green India Mission implementation should focus on ecological restoration rather than tree plantation. Choose sites where it can contribute to ecological connectivity in landscapes fragmented by linear infrastructure.
Choice of species and density should be informed by available knowledge and evidence on resilience under emerging climate change and synergies and trade-offs with respect to hydrologic services.
New missions and programmes should effectively use modern concepts of sustainability and valuation of ecosystems that consider ecological, cultural, and sociological aspects of our biological wealth.
Site selection should also be carefully considered for the mangrove initiative with a greater emphasis on diversity of mangrove species with retention of the integrity of coastal mud-flats and salt pans themselves, as they too are important for biodiversity.
Each of these efforts must be inclusive of local and nomadic communities where these initiatives will be implemented.
Traditional knowledge and practices of these communities should be integrated into the implementation plans.
Each programme should include significant educational and research funding to critically appraise and bring awareness to India’s biological wealth.
The National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Wellbeing, already approved by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC), will be immediately launched by the government.
This mission seeks to harness the power of interdisciplinary knowledge for greening India and its economy, restore and enrich our natural capital for the well-being of our people and position India as a global leader in applied biodiversity science.