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Biodiversity


  • Biodiversity refers to the totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of plant, animals or micro-organisms in a region. Study of biodiversity has become very important recently after realising the value of biodiversity for our survival. It has many medicinal, commercial, economic and scientific uses.
  • Wild relatives of cultivated crop plants are the source of genes for disease resistance and several other attributes required for crop improvement.
  • Biodiversity also provides valuable services like water conservation, clean air, soil conservation and improvement of soil fertility, pollution break-down, aesthetic needs and so on.
  • biodiversity1

    Biological Diversity

  • Sum total of all the variety of living organisms on earth constitute biodiversity. Biological diversity is usually considered at three different levels – a) genetic diversity i.e. at genetic level, b) species diversity i.e. at the level of species, and c) ecosystem diversity i.e. at the level of ecosystem.
  • Genetic diversity refers to the variety of genes contained within species of plants, animals and micro-organisms. New genetic variation in individuals occurs by gene and chromosomal mutation, and in organisms with sexual reproduction may be spread across the population by recombination. For instance, two brothers differ in their structure, although their parents are the same.
  • Species diversity to the variety of species within a geographical area. Species diversity can be measured in terms of 😦 a) Species richness – refers to the number of various species in a defined area. (b) Species abundance – refers to the relative numbers among species. For example, the number of species of plants, animals and microorganisms may be more in an area than that recorded in another area. (c) Taxonomic or phylogenetic diversity – refers to the genetic relationships between different groups of species.
  • Ecosystem diversity refers to the presence of different types of ecosystems. For instance, the tropical south India with rich species diversity will have altogether different structure compared to the desert ecosystem which has far less number of plant and animal species.
  • Hot spots of biodiversity

  • Biodiversity is not uniformly distributed across the geographical regions of the earth. Certain regions of the world are very rich in biodiversity. We call such areas as “mega diversity zones”. We also refer to them as “hot-spots”. For example, India accounts for only 2.4 % of the land area of the world; but it contributes approximately 8% species to the global diversity due to existence of such pockets.
  • Norman Myers, a British Ecologist, developed the concept of hot spots in 1988 to designate priority areas for in situ conservation. According to him, the hot spots are the richest and the most threatened reservoirs of biodiversity on the earth. The criteria for determining a hot spot are: i) The area should support >1500 endemic species, ii) It must have lost over 70 % of the original habitat.
  • Twenty-five biodiversity hot spots have been identified in the world. These hot spots are characterized by posing exceptionally high biodiversity. For example the total area of these 25 hot spots cover 1.4% of the total land area, support 44% of plant and 35% terrestrial vertebrates.
  • Among the 25 hot spots of the world, 2 are found in India namely Western Ghats and the eastern Himalayas. These two areas of the country are exceptionally rich in flowering plants, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and some species of mammals.
  • The eastern Himalayan hot spot extends to the north – eastern India and Bhutan. The temperate forests are found at an altitude of 1780 to 3500 m. Many deep and semi isolated valleys are exceptionally rich in endemic plant species.
  • The Western Ghats region lies parallel to the western coast of Indian peninsula for almost 1600 km, in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. These forests at low elevation (500 m above mean sea level) are mostly evergreen, while those at 500- 1500 m height are generally semi-evergreen forests.
  • UNIQUENESS OF INDIAN BIODIVERSITY AND ASSOCIATED REGIONAL SPECIFICITY

  • India has the widest variety of ecosystems. With only 2.4% of the land area, India accounts for 7-8 % of the recorded species of the world. More than 45000 species of plants and 81,000 species of animals are found in India. India is also one of the eight primary centers of origin of cultivated plants and has a rich agricultural biodiversity.
  • The trans-Himalayan region with its sparse vegetation has the richest wild sheep and goat community in the world. The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) and Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) are found here. The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) which is highly endangered bird, is found in (Gujarat) region, rich in extensive grasslands.
  • North-east India is one of the richest regions of biodiversity in the country. It is especially rich in orchids, bamboos, ferns, citrus, banana, mango and jute.
  • India is also rich in coral reefs. Major reef formations in Indian seas occur in the Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay, Gulf of Kutch, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Lakshadweep. The threat to mangroves trees (growing in marshy lands) and coral reefs comes from the biotic pressure such as extraction for market demands, fishing, land-use changes in surrounding areas, and from pollution of water etc.
  • CONSERVATION OF BIODIVERSITY

  • Conservation is the planned management of natural resources, to retain the balance in nature and retain the diversity. It also includes wise use of natural resources in such a way that the needs of present generation are met and at the same time leaving enough for the future generations. Conservation of biodiversity is important to:-
    1. prevent the loss of genetic diversity of a species,
    2. save a species from becoming extinct, and
    3. Protect ecosystems damage and degradation.

    CONSERVATION STRATEGIES

  • Conservation efforts can be grouped into the following two categories:
  • In-situ (on-site) conservation includes the protection of plants and animals within their natural habitats or in protected areas. Protected areas are land or sea dedicated to protect and maintain biodiversity.
  • Ex-situ (off-site) conservation of plants and animals outside their natural habitats. These include botanical gardens, zoo, and gene banks; seek bank, tissue culture and cryopreservation.
  • In-situ methods

  • Protection of habitat: The main strategy for conservation of species is the protection of habitats in representative ecosystems. Currently, India has ninety six National Parks, five hundred Wildlife Sanctuaries, thirteen Biosphere Reserves, twenty seven Tiger Reserves and eleven Elephant Reserves covering an area of 15.67 million hectares or 4.7 % of the geographical area of the country.
  • National parks and sanctuaries– India is unique in the richness and diversity of its vegetation and wildlife. India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries (including bird sanctuaries) are situated Ladakh in Himalayas to Southern tip of Tamil Nadu with its rich bio-diversity and heritage.
  • Biosphere Reserves- These are representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large areas of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems which are internationally recognized within UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme Thirteen biodiversity- rich representative ecosystems , largely within the forest land ( total area – 53,000 sq. km. ), have been designated as Biosphere Reserves in India.
  • Project Elephant was launched in February, 1992 to assist states having free ranging populations of wild elephants to ensure long-term survival of identified viable populations of elephants in their natural habitats. The project is being implemented in twelve states viz. Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Asom, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu Uttaranchal and West Bengal.
  • Crocodile breeding and management project- This project was started in 1976 with FAO – UNDP assistance to save three endangered crocodilian species, namely, the fresh water crocodile, salt water crocodile and the rare gharial. The project surveyed the crocodile habitats and facilitated their protection through declaration of sanctuaries and National Parks. Captive breeding and reintroduction or restocking programmes involved careful collection of eggs from the wild. Thousands of crocodiles of three species have been reared at sixteen centres and several of these have been released in the wild. Eleven sanctuaries have been declared specially for crocodile protection including the National Chambal Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Ex-situ Conservation

    • Botanical gardens, zoos, etc.- To complement in-situ conservation efforts, ex-situ conservation is being undertaken through setting up botanic gardens, zoos, medicinal plant parks, etc by various agencies. The Indian Botanical Garden in Howrah (West Bengal) is over 200 years old. Other important botanical gardens are in Ooty, Bangalore and Lucknow. The most recent one is The Botanical Garden of Indian Republic established at NOIDA, near Delhi in April, 2002.
    • Gene Banks: Ex-situ collection and preservation of genetic resources is done through gene banks and seed banks. The National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi preserves seeds of wild relatives of crop plants as well as cultivated varieties; the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources at Karnal, Haryana maintains the genetic material for domesticated animals, and the National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources, Lucknow for fishes.
    • Cryopreservation: (“freeze preservation”) is particularly useful for conserving vegetative propagated crops. Cryopreservation is the storage of material at ultra low temperature of liquid nitrogen (-1960C) and essentially involves suspension of all metabolic processes and activities. Cryopreservation has been successfully applied to meristems, zygotic and somatic embryos, pollen, protoplasts cells and suspension cultures of a number of plant species.
    • Conservation at molecular level (DNA level): In addition to above, germplasm conservation at molecular level is now feasible and attracting attention. Cloned DNA and material having DNA in its native state can all be used for genetic conservation.
    • Furthermore, non-viable material representing valuable genotypes stored in gene banks can all be used as sources of DNA libraries from where a relevant gene or a combination of genes can be recovered.
    • The Wildlife Protection Act (1972) contains provisions for penalties or punishment to prevent poaching and illegal trade. India is also a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
    • The Convention entered into force on 1st July, 1975. In addition to this, India is also a signatory to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which it signed on 29th December, 1993 at Rio de Janeiro during the Earth Summit.

    Biological Diversity Act, 2002

  • This Act provides for setting up of a National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) and Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) in local bodies.
  • All foreign nationals’ organizations require prior approval of NBA for obtaining biological resources and/or associated knowledge for any use.
  • Similarly, Indian nationals or organizations will require giving prior intimation to the concerned SBB about any biological resources being imported for commercial use. The SBB may prohibit the import if found to violate the objectives of conservation, sustainable use and benefit sharing.
  • However, local people and communities of the area, including Vaids and Hakims will have free access to use biological resources within the country for their own use, medicinal purposes and research.
  • While granting approvals, NBA will impose terms and conditions to secure equitable sharing of benefits.
  • There is an enabling provision for setting up a framework for protecting traditional knowledge.
  • The monetary benefits, fees and royalties, as a result of approvals by NBA are to be deposited in National Biodiversity Fund which will be used for conservation and development of areas from where the resource has been accessed, in consultation with local self government.
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and World Conservation Union supports projects to promote conservation and appropriate development of Biosphere Reserves
  • National Parks in India

    State / UT

    National Park

     

    Andaman and Nicobar
  • Campbell Bay National Park(1992)  ;
  • Galathea National Park- 1992;
  • Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park (previously : Wandur National Park) 1983 ;
  • Middle Button Island National Park –1987 ;
  • Mount Harriet National Park –1987 ;
  • North Button Island National Park- 1987 ;
  • Rani Jhansi Marine National Park- 1996 ; 
  • Saddle Peak National Park –1987 ;
  • South Button Island National Park- 1987
  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park-1994; 
  • Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park- 1994 ;
  • Mrugavani National Park- 1994 ;
  • Sri Venkateswara National Park- 1989
  • Arunachal Pradesh
  • Mouling National Park-1986
  • Namdapha National Park- 1983
  • Assam
  • Dibru-Saikhowa National Park- 1999; 
  • Kaziranga National Park-1974;
  • Manas National Park-1990;
  • Nameri National Park- 1998:
  • Orang National Park- 1999; 
  • Bihar
  • Valmiki National Park- 1989;
  • Kanwar Lake Bird Sanctuary-1987; 
  • Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary-2009 
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Indravati National Park- 1981;
  • Kanger Ghati National Park (Kanger Valley)-1982; 
  • Sanjay National Park-1981
  • Goa
  • Mollem National Park- 1978
  • Gujarat
  • Vansda National Park-1979
  • Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar-1976
  • Gir National Park-1965
  • Gulf of Kachchh Marine National Park-1980
  • Haryana
  • Kalesar National Park-2003
  • Sultanpur National Park-1989
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • Great Himalayan National Park-1984
  • Himachal Pradesh Pin Valley National Park-1987
  • Jammu and Kashmir
  • Dachigam National Park-1981
  • Hemis National Park-1981
  • Kishtwar National Park- 1981
  • Salim Ali National Park-1992
  • Jharkhand
  • Betla National Park-1986
  • Hazaribag National Park- 1954
  • Dimna National Park- 1975
  • Karnataka
  • Anshi National Park- 1987
  • Bandipur National Park- 1974
  • Bannerghatta National Park- 1974
  • Kudremukh National Park 1987
  • Rajiv Gandhi National Park (prev: Nagarhole National Park)-1988
  • Kerala
  • Eravikulam National Park- 1978
  • Mathikettan Shola National Park- 2003
  • Periyar National Park-1982
  • Silent Valley National Park- 1984
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Bandhavgarh National Park- 1982
  • Fossil National Park- 1983
  • Kanha National Park- 1955 
  • Madhav National Park- 195
  • Panna National Park- 1973
  • Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh- 1975
  • Sanjay National Park-1981
  • Satpura National Park-1981 
  • Van Vihar National Park- 1979
  • Maharashtra
  • Chandoli National Park- 2004
  • Gugamal National Park- 1987
  • Navegaon National Park- 1975
  • Pench National Park- 1975 
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park a.k.a. Borivili National Park, Mumbai- 1983
  • Tadoba National Park- 1955
  • Manipur

  • Keibul Lamjao National Park- 1977
  • Sirohi National Park-1982
  •  

    Meghalaya

  • Balphakram National Park-1986
  • Nokrek National Park- 1986
  •  

    Mizoram

  • Murlen National Park- 1991
  • Phawngpui Blue Mountain National Park-1997
  •  

    Nagaland

  • Ntangki National Park- 1993
  •  

    Orissa

  • Bhitarkanika National Park- 1988
  • Nandankanan National Park- 1976
  • Simlipal National Park-1980
  •  

    Punjab

  • Harike Wetland- 1987
  •  

    Rajasthan

  • Darrah National Park- 2004
  • Desert National Park- 1980
  • Keoladeo National Park- 1981
  • Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary- 1960
  • Ranthambore National Park- 1980
  • Sariska National Park- 1982
  •  

    Sikkim

  • Khangchendzonga National Park-1977
  •  

    Tamil Nadu

  • Guindy National Park- 1976
  • Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park- 1980 
  • Indira Gandhi National Park (prev: Annamalai National Park)-1989
  • Mudumalai National Park- 1990
  • Mukurthi National Park- 1990
  • Palani Hills National Park Proposed
  •  

    Uttar Pradesh

  • Dudhwa National Park- 1977
  •  

    Uttarakhand

  • Corbett National Park- 1936
  • Gangotri National Park- 1989
  • Govind Pashu Vihar- 1990
  • Nanda Devi National Park- 1982
  • Rajaji National Park- 1983
  • Valley of Flowers National Park- 1982
  •  

    West Bengal

  • Buxa Tiger Reserve- 1992
  • Gorumara National Park- 1994
  • Neora Valley National Park- 1986
  • Singalila National Park- 1992
  • Sundarbans National Park- 1984
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