India, a megadiverse country with only 2.4% of the world’s land area, accounts for 7-8% of all recorded species, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals
It is situated at the tri-junction of the Afrotropical, Indo-Malayan and Palaearctic realms, all of which support rich biodiversity.
Being one of the 17 identified megadiverse countries, India has 10 biogeographic zones and is home to 8.58% of the mammalian species documented so far, with the corresponding figures for avian species being 13.66%, for reptiles 7.91%, for amphibians 4.66%, for fishes 11.72% and for plants 11.80%
Four of the 34 globally identified biodiversity hotspots, namely the Himalaya, Indo-Burma, the Western Ghats-Sri Lanka and Sundaland, are represented in India
Bio-geographic classification and biodiversity characterization:-
India is amongst the few countries that have developed a bio-geographic classification based on which conservation planning has been taken up. This has been done to ensure
that different bio-geographic zones are represented in area-based conservation approaches at the landscape level.
This classification uses four levels of planning units: the biogeographic zone, the biotic province, the land region and the biome.
The Biogeographic Zone:-
Large distinctive units of similar ecology, biome representation, community and species, e.g., The Himalaya, The Western Ghats.
The biotic province:-
Secondary units within a zone, giving weight to particular communities separated by dispersal barriers or gradual change in environmental factors,e.g., North-west and West Himalaya either side of the Sutlej River.
The Land Region:-
Atertiary set of units within a province, indicating different landforms, e.g., Aravalli Mountains and Malwa Plateau in Gujarat-Rajwara Province.
Abiome is an ecological unit, not a bio-geographic unit, such as swamp/wetland or temperate broad leaved forest.
The idea of hotspots was first mooted in 1988 by ecologist Norman Myers, who defined a hotspot as an area of exceptional plant, animal and microbe wealth that is under threat. The key criteria for determining a hotspot are endemism (the presence of species found nowhere else on earth) and degree of threat.
Out of the 34 global biodiversity hotspots, four are present in India.
1)THE HIMALAYA –
Western and Eastern Himalaya form part of Himalayan global biodiversity hotspot.
The sudden rise of the Himalayan mountains from less than 500 metres to more than 8,000 metres results in a diversity of ecosystems, from alluvial grasslands and subtropical broad-leaf forests along the foothills to temperate broad-leaf forests in the middle elevations, mixed conifer and conifer forests in the higher hills, and alpine meadows 2 above the tree line.
This enormous mountain range, which extends over nearly 750,000 km , lies in two separate regions of India, namely the Eastern Himalaya and the Western Himalaya. Charismatic large mammals such as the tiger and elephant are found in the foothills and Terai region. The Snow leopard, Musk deer, Himalayan tahr, Blue sheep, Black bear, Chir pheasant, Himalayan monal and Western tragopan are some of the characteristic fauna of the mountains. Of the estimated 10,000 species of plants in the Himalaya hotspot, 71 genera and approximately 3160 species are endemic.
The Eastern Himalayan region is exceptionally rich in diversity and endemism and hence is of great significance. The Eastern Himalaya on the whole has an estimated 9000 plant species, out of which 3500 (39%) are endemic. In the Indian portion of the Eastern Himalaya there occur 5800 plant species, approximately 2000 (36%) of which are endemic. The area is also rich in wild relatives of plants of economic significance, for example, rice, banana, citrus, ginger, chilli, jute and sugarcane. The region is also a rich centre of avian diversity-more than 60% of the bird species found in India have been recorded in the North-east. The region also harbours 35 endemic reptilian species including two genera of lizards and two turtle species. Out of 341 Indian amphibian species recorded so far, at least 68 species are known to occur in the North-east, 20 of which are endemic
2)THE WESTERN GHATS-
Part of Western Ghats-SriLanka global biodiversity hotspot.
The Western Ghats are part of the Western Ghats-Sri Lanka global hotspot, running roughly in a North-south direction for about 1500 kilometres parallel to the coast bordering the Arabian Sea. The importance of the Western Ghats in terms of their biodiversity can be seen from the known inventory of their plant and animal groups and the levels of endemism in these taxa. Western Ghats harbour 7388 species of flowering plants. Of these, 5584 species are indigenous, 377 are exotic naturalised and 1427 are cultivated or planted. Of the indigenous 5584 species, 2242 species are Indian endemics (found only in India) and 1261 are the Western Ghats endemics. Apart from the above, there are 586 taxa with subspecies and variety status, bringing total taxa in the Western Ghats to 7974.
The Western Ghats region harbours the largest global populations of the Asian elephant and possibly of other mammals such as the tiger, dhole and gaur. The Western Ghats also support a number of wild relatives of cultivated plants, including pepper, cardamom, mango, jackfruit and sandal.
Thirty nine sites in the Western Ghats in the States of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012, considering their outstanding universal value and high levels of endemism.
Part of Indo-Burma global biodiversity hotspot.
Some parts of the North-eastern region of India, excluding the Himalayan region, are contiguous with the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, centred on the Indo-Chinese Peninsula, and comprising Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and parts of Southern China.
The topography of the hotspot is complex and is characterised by a series of North-south mountain ranges that descend from the Himalayan chain and its South-eastern
Indo-Burma probably supports the highest diversity of freshwater turtle in the world. The hot spot also has a remarkable freshwater fish fauna, with 1262 documented species, accounting for about 10% of the world total, including 566 endemics
Part of the Sundaland global biodiversity hotspot.
The Nicobar Islands are part of the Sundaland hotspot, which includes a small portion of Southern Thailand;nearly all of Malaysia; Singapore, at the tip of the Malay Peninsula; all of Brunei Darussalam; and all of the western half of the mega-diverse country of Indonesia,including Kalimantan.
These islands are fringed by one of the most spectacular reefs of the Indian Ocean region and are considered to be globally significant.
The Nicobar Islands are characterised by an absence of large mammals and the presence of a significant number of endemics, such as Nicobar tree shrew (Tupaia nicobarica), among the island’s vertebrates.
The only primate, the Nicobar Crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis umbrosa), occurs in the Southern group of the Nicobar Islands.
Importance of biodiversity and its implications for human well-being:-
Biodiversity underpins the form and function of ecosystems, which are of high value due to the life-supporting services they provide that meet human needs, both material and non-material.
They are provisioning services, such as supplying of fuel and fodder, and regulating services, such as carbon sequestration and prevention of soil erosion. Moreover, biodiversity has non-use or existence value.
In the Indian context especially, a range of socio-cultural values are derived from biodiversity that are philosophical, cultural and religious. Biodiversity and ecosystem diversity are reflected in the cultural and religious diversity of India through the varied values attached to biodiversity components and landscapes. India’s many traditional knowledge systems and ethno-medicinal practices are based on a close understanding of and dependence on biodiversity. The cultural or religious importance of species and designation of sacred areas are well-known in India.
India’s coastal and marine areas hold many biological treasures. Dense mangrove forest of Sunderbans, the world’s largest congregations of nesting turtles in Odisha, beautiful seagrass beds in Palk Bay, dolphins and dugongs in the Gulf of Mannar, majestic whale sharks in the Gulf of Kachchh and some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs are just a few examples of the treasures of India’s coastal and marine biodiversity
Forests of India:-
The forests in India are spread over an area of 2 692,027 km , covering 21.05% of the geographical area of the country.
There are 16 major forest types and 251 sub-types
The forest cover of the country has been classified on the basis of the tree canopy density into pre-defined classes: Very Dense Forest (VDF), Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) and Open Forest (OF).
Forest cover percentage- a) VDF – 2.54 b) MDF -9.76 c) OF – 8.75
Wetlands of India
India is bestowed with a rich diversity of wetlands, ranging from high altitude lakes of the Himalayas, floodplains and marshes of the Gangetic – Bramhaputra alluvial plains, saline flats of Green Indian Desert to extensive mangroves marshes bordering the country’s East and West coastline.
Roughly equal to 4.6% of India’s land area is wetland.
India is a signatory to Ramsar Convention and is committed to ‘wise use’ of all wetlands in her territory. As on date, 26 sites have been designated as Wetlands of International importance under the Convention.
Important Wetlands of India:-
Ashtamudi Wetland – Kerala
Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary – Uttar pradesh
Bhoj Lake – Madhya Pradesh
Chilika Lagoon – Odisha
Deepor Beel – Assam
Kolleru Lake – Andhra Pradesh
Loktak Lake – Manipur
Nalsarovar – Gujrat
North Reef Island Sanctuary – Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary – Tamilndau
Pong Dam Lake – Himachal Pradesh
Sambhar Lake – Rajasthan
Sundarbans – West Bengal
Tawa Reservoir – Madhya Pradesh
Tso Moriri – Jammu & Kashmir
Udhwa Lake (Bird Sanctuary) – Jharkhand
Wular Lake – Jammu & Kashmir
Wandur Marine National Park – Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Wetlands are one of the crucial natural resources. Wetlands are areas of land that are either temporarily or permanently covered by water. This means that a wetland is neither truly aquatic nor terrestrial; it is possible that wetlands can be both at the same time depending on seasonal variability. Thus, wetlands exhibit enormous diversity according to their genesis, geographical location, water regime and chemistry, dominant plants and soil or sediment characteristics.
Because of their transitional nature, the boundaries of wetlands are often difficult to define. Wetlands do, however, share a few attributes common to all forms. Of these, hydrological structure (the dynamics of water supply, throughput, storage and loss) is most fundamental to the nature of a wetland system. It is the presence of water for a significant period of time, which is principally responsible for the development of a wetland
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment estimates conservatively that wetlands cover seven percent of the earth’s surface and deliver 45% of the world’s natural productivity and ecosystem services of which the benefits are estimated at $20 trillion a year
Provisioning services: The resources or products provided by ecosystems, such as food, raw materials (wood), genetic resources, medicinal resources, ornamental resources (skin, shells, flowers).
Regulating services: Ecosystems maintain the essential ecological processes and life support systems, like gas and climate regulation, water supply and regulation, waste treatment, pollination, etc.
Cultural and Amenity services: Ecosystems are a source of inspiration to human culture and education throughout recreation, cultural, artistic, spiritual and historic information, science and education.
Supporting services: Ecosystems provide habitat for flora and fauna in order to maintain biological and genetic diversity.
Mangroves, corals and seagrasses:-
India has a long coastline of about 7,517 km in length- 2 consisting of 2,383 km of extensive coral reef beds.
The coral reef beds in the Gulf of Kachchh, Gulf of Mannar, Lakshadweep Islands and Andaman and Nicobar Islands are inhabited by several rare and threatened species such as the dugong, the Hawksbill turtle and Giant clams, which indicate the health of these ecosystems.
A total of 478 species of corals belonging to 89 genera have so far been recorded from India, forming 60% of the known hermatypic genera of the world.
The mangrove cover of India (2.69% of the global mangrove area and 8% of Asia’s mangroves) is home to umbrella species such as the tiger as well as many threatened species such as the River terrapin, Gangetic river dolphin, Estuarine crocodile and Fishing cat.
*Umbrella species are species selected for making conservation-related decisions, typically because protecting these species indirectly protects the many other species that make up the ecological community of its habitat. Species conservation can be subjective because it is hard to determine the status of many species.
About 59% of this cover is on the East coast, along the Bay of Bengal, 28% on the West coast, bordering the Arabian Sea, and 13% on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The largest mangrove habitat is found in the Sundarbans, West Bengal. It is the single largest block 2 (>10,000 km ) of tidal halophytic mangroves in the world.
Seagrasses are submerged aquatic vegetation specialised to live in marine environments.They are acting as the carbon sink in the coastal environment by sequestering 12% of the carbon fixed in the global oceans.
In India, extensive seagrass meadows are reported from Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay, Gulf of Kachchh, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar group of islands.
Marine protected area network in India:-
India has a vast coastline of 7517 km, of which 5423 km is in peninsular India and 2094 km in the Andaman, Nicobar 2 and Lakshadweep Islands, with an exclusive economic zone of 2.02 million km . This coastline also supports a huge human population, which is dependent on the rich coastal and marine resources. It is estimated that nearly 250 million people live within a swath 50 km wide along the coastline of India.
Therefore, the ecological services of the marine and coastal ecosystems of India play a vital role in India’s economic growth and in ensuring human well-being. The MPA network in India has been used as a tool to manage natural marine resources for biodiversity conservation and for the well-being of people dependent on these resources. India has designated four legal categories of PAs, National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves. Scientific monitoring and traditional observations confirm that depleted natural marine resources are getting restored and/or pristine ecological conditions have been sustained in well managed MPAs.
There are 23 MPAs present in peninsular India and more than 100 MPAs in the country’s islands. Of the 23 MPAs in the peninsula, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, Sundarbans National Park, Gulf of Kachchh National Park, Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary have unique marine biodiversity and provide a range of ecological services to the local communities. These 23 MPAs cover an area of about 6158 km , which is 3.85% of the total area covered under the entire PA network of India 2 or less than 0.2% of the total land area of India. The total area of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is 4947 km , of 2 which 1510 km is protected under the provisions of India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. There are 105 PAs in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, of which about 100 include marine areas. These MPAs cover more than 30% of the terrestrial area of the islands and protect more than 40% of the coastal habitat. Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park and Rani Jhansi Marine National Park are important MPAs here. In the Lakshadweep group of islands, Pitti Island (0.012 km ) is the only island having the status of an MPA.
Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAs):-
Biosphere Reserves (BRs):-
National Biosphere Reserve Programme in 1986 with the primary aim of conservation of an entire range of living resources and their ecological foundations, along with sustainable use of natural resources and improvement of the livelihoods of local inhabitants. This programme also had the objective of ensuring community participation for ffective management of biodiversity resources and integration of traditional knowledge and scientific research for conservation, education and training as a part of the overall management of BRs. Considering the diversity of ecosystems and recognising the importance of BRs in ensuring long-term conservation and sustainable use of India’s representative and diverse biological diversity, so far 18 BRs have been notified by the GoI. Globally, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) has designated a total of 621 BRs, of which 9 are in India. These are the Achanakmar-Amarkantak, Nilgiri, Gulf of Mannar, Nanda Devi, Sundarban, Simlipal, Pachmarhi, Nokrek and Great Nicobar BR.
Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
Birds are good indicators of ecosystem health. The IBA programme of BirdLife International aims to identify, monitor and protect a global network of IBAs for conservation of the world’s birds and other biodiversity. The IBAs are conservation areas of international significance for conservation of birds at the global, regional or sub-regional level. According to BirdLife International, designation of IBAs is based on standardised criteria, namely (i) hold significant numbers of one or more globally threatened bird species, (ii) be one of a set of sites that together hold a suite of restricted-range species or biome-restricted.(iii) have exceptionally large numbers of migratory or congregatory birds.
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS; www.bnhs.org) and BirdLife International have identified 465 IBAs in India
Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)
KBAs are nationally identified sites of global significance. In India, the identification of KBAs in the Western Ghats was initiated in 2003.KBAs comprise an ‘umbrella’ which includes globally important sites for different taxa and realms: IBAs, Medicinal Plant Conservation Areas (MPCAs), Important Sites for Freshwater/Marine Biodiversity; and Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) sites.
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)The AZE (www.zeroextinction.org) is a global alliance, which identifies threatened species (CR and EN), based on the global IUCN Red Listing, occurring in a single location, as the highest priority in initiating on-the ground conservation action.
Currently there are 19 species recognized by the AZE in India, The Zoo Outreach Organization (ZOO; www.zooreach.org) and the Indian Alliance for Zero Extinction (In AZE; www.zooreach.org/indianaze/ indianaze.html) have identified a further 40 species and sites based on the recent assessments of freshwater fish and aquatic plants.
Community Conservation Areas (CCAs)
CCAs can be defined as ‘natural ecosystems (forest/marine/wetlands/grasslands/others), including those with minimum to substantial human influence, containing significant wildlife and biodiversity values, being conserved by communities for cultural, religious, livelihood, or political purposes, using customary laws or other effective means’.
A total of 141 CCAs covering a total area of ca. 157,046 ha have been identified for conservation measures.
Medicinal Plant Conservation Areas (MPCAs)
India has one of the richest and oldest medicinal plant cultures of the world. The so far estimated number of 6560 species of medicinal plants of India are a great bio-cultural resource Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health and Traditions.
The uniqueness of the Indian medical heritage draws from two streams of knowledge, folk and codified stream, which are coexisting living traditions that have historically enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. India is a global leader in in-situ conservation of medicinal plants having established the largest in-situ conservation network for medicinal plants in the tropical world.
So far, 110 MPCAs, each of an average size of 200 ha, have been set up across 13 States of India.
Flagship Species of India
The Tiger Panthera tigris is an umbrella species for conservation of the biota of a majority of the eco-regions in Asia. Its role as a top predator is vital in regulating and maintaining ecological processes and systems. India is home to over 50% of the world’s wild tigers in spite of having a growing human population of over a billion.
Major landscape complexes that inhabit tiger:-
1)Shiva-Gangetic Plain Landscape
2)Central Indian Landscape Complex and Eastern Ghats Landscape
3)Western Ghats Landscape
4)North Eastern Hills and Brahmaputra Flood Plans
The Elephant (Elephas maximus) has enjoyed a unique association with the people of India since ancient times and is worshiped in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. It occurs in the central and Southern Western Ghats, North-east India, Eastern India and Northern India and in some parts of Southern peninsular India.
It is included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna(CITES).
In 1992 GoI launched Project Elephant, a flagship conservation project that aims to conserve the elephant and its habitat across 10 major landscapes (designated as Project Elephant Ranges), mitigate elephant – human conflict, and protect the animal from poaching for ivory.
Asiatic Wild ass:-
The Asiatic Wild ass Equus hemionus khur is restricted to the Rann of Kachchh in Gujarat and its surrounding areas. The population of this sub-species has been on the increase since the 1990s.
Gharial is Critically Endangered (IUCN), and listed in Schedule I Wildlife Protection Act (WPA, 1972). About 1300 animals are estimated to be left in the wild, of which only about 200 are breeding adults. The largest remaining populations are found in just four locations in India, along the Son, Katerniaghat, Girwa and Chambal rivers.
Irrawaddy dolphin is found in Chilika Lake and the Sundarbans, these dolphins have suffered a rapid decline in their population mainly due to poaching and accidental catches in gill nets. Conservation work carried out by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) has resulted in an increasing trend in the population of the Irrawaddy dolphin, with the numbers increasing from 70 in 2003 to 145 in 2012.
Project Kachuga, an initiative undertaken by the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust in collaboration with Turtle Survival Alliance, has been launched for conservation of freshwater turtles in India. Five turtle priority areas have been identified for development and implementation of effective conservation plans under this programme.
Listed as Vulnerable (IUCN 2013, Figure 1.17) and protected under Schedule I of the WPA, 1972, dugong occurs in the Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay, Gulf of Kachchh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The MoEF, under the species recovery component of the IDWH scheme, aims at increasing Dugong numbers and preventing degradation of the habitat of the species.
Myristica swamps are a type of freshwater swamp forest predominantly composed of species of Myristica, the most primitive of the flowering plants on earth. These are found in two localities in India, the Uttara Kannada district of the State of Karnataka and in the Southern parts of the State of Kerala.
Myristica swamps are ‘live museums’ of ancient tree species and the home of proto-angiosperms
Cycads are the remnants of the most ancient seed plants. These plants date to the late Carboniferous period (300-325 million years ago). They are flagship species for conservation biology due to their unusual life histories, restricted distribution in special habitats and the globally threatened status of many species
Cycads are used extensively for medicinal and other subsistence purposes. Cycads in India are now receiving much-needed attention for conservation through both ex situ and in situ measures.
It is a ‘keystone element’ in the Himalayan context.The Eastern Himalayan region is particularly rich, being represented by 75 species. The hills of North-eastern India account for about 10 species, of which six are endemic.
As many as 46 Rhododendron species have been classified as rare or threatened in the Eastern Himalaya of India.
The State Government of Sikkim has specially declared two PAs as Rhododendron Sanctuaries, Shingba and Barsey. Fambonglho Wildlife Sanctuary, Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary and Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary are the other PAs in Sikkim that are known for Rhododendron conservation.
It is rare, classified globally as endangered and included in Appendix I of CITES and the Negative List of Exports of the GoI.
The plant is endemic to the State of Meghalaya and is found at altitudes of approximately 1000-1500 m in the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo hills .
India is regarded as the home and one of the centres of origin of Citrus due to the presence of a vast genetic diversity of important Citrus species (family Rutaceae).
Seven Indian Citrus species are categorized as endangered by the IUCN. An initiative was undertaken by NBPGR (National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources0in 1981 to protect Citrus germplasm in the wild by establishing the Citrus Gene Sanctuary, covering an area of approximately 10,266 ha, located in the buffer zone of the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, in the Garo Hills of Meghalaya, with support from the MoEF, under the Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme of the United Nations
Orchids are a charismatic group that form 9% of India’s flora and are the largest family among higher plants in India.The Himalayan region is their main home, and others are
scattered in the Eastern and Western Ghats.
Orchid diversity in India is high, comprising terrestrial, epiphytic and saprophytic orchids. In general, terrestrial orchids are more common in western India, epiphytic orchids in North-eastern India and small-flowered orchids in the Western Ghats.
Sessa Orchid Sanctuary, at Arunachal Pradesh, with more than 600 species, is the orchid paradise of the country. Agastyamalai Hills, in southern Kerala, home to at least 150 endemics species.
Threat To biodiversity:-
National Biodiversity Targets:-
By 2020, a significant proportion of the country’s population, especially the youth, is aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.
By 2020, values of biodiversity are integrated in national and state planning processes, development programmes and poverty alleviation strategies.
Strategies for reducing rate of degradation, fragmentation and loss of all natural habitats are finalized and actions put in place by 2020 for environmental amelioration and human well-being
By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and strategies to manage them developed so that populations of prioritized invasive alien species are managed.
By 2020, measures are adopted for sustainable management of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Ecologically representative areas under terrestrial and inland water, and also coastal and marine zones, especially those of particular importance for species, biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved effectively and equitably, based on protected area designation and management and other areabased conservation measures and are integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes, covering over 20% of the geographic area of the country by 2020 .
By 2020, genetic diversity of cultivated plants, farm livestock, and their wild relatives, including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable species, is maintained, and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.
By 2020, ecosystem services, especially those relating to water,human health, livelihoods and well-being, are enumerated and measures to safeguard them are identified, taking into account the needs of women and local communities, particularly the poor and vulnerable sections.
By 2015, Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization as per the Nagoya Protocol are operational, consistent with national legislations.
By 2020, an effective, participatory and updated national biodiversity action plan is made operational at different levels of governance
By 2020, national initiatives using communities’ traditional knowledge relating to biodiversity are strengthened, with the view to protecting this knowledge in accordance with national legislations and international obligations
By 2020, opportunities to increase the availability of financial, human and technical resources to facilitate effective implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the national targets are identified and the Strategy for Resource Mobilization is adopted.
Green India Mission (GIM):-
GIM is one of the eight missions under the NAPCC. The objectives of the Mission include increased forest/tree cover on 5 m ha of forest/non- forest lands and improved quality of forest cover on another 5 m ha of non-forest/ forest lands.
India has an estimated 18,000 plants, 30 mammals, 4 birds, 300 freshwater fishes and 1100 arthropods that are invasive.Among the major threats faced by native plant and animal species (and their habitats), the one posed by the Invasive Alien Species, is considered second only to habitat loss. Invasive Alien Species are species whose introduction and/or spread outside their natural habitats threaten biological diversity. While only a small percentage of organisms transported to new environment become invasive, their negative impacts on food security, plant, animal and human health, and economic development can be extensive and substantial. Identification, monitoring and management of all Invasive Alien Species in India is a major challenge as in other parts of the world. Addressing the problem of Invasive Alien Species is urgent because the threat is increasing due to global trade, transport, and tourism with several social, economic and environmental impacts.
Many fresh water and marine algae including species of Kappaphycus (red algae), Microcystis ( freshwater cyanobacteria), Caulerpa (seaweeds ), Cladophora (green algae), etc. causing extensive damage to the ecosystems and affecting aquatic biodiversity adversely in India have been identified.
The invasive Carijoa riisei (snowflake coral or branched pipe coral) is found in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gulf of Mannar and Gulf of Kachchh.
A recent report on the occurrence of the Spider crab Acanthonyx euryseroche, a seaweed associate along the Central West Coast of India suggests that the epidemic outburst of such population might be dangerous to native marine biodiversity in India.
Of the eight worst invasive fish species in the world, five species are present in India. For example, Mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) was introduced in India as a biological control.Brown trout (Salmo trutto) and Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were introduced in streams and rivers of Himalayas for recreational as well as consumption purposes. These three highly predatory fishes eat the eggs of economically desirable fish and prey on an endanger rare indigenous fish and invertebrate species. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambucus), were introduced in Indian aquaculture but later these species spread into large parts of India and are now competing with native species in for food and habitat. African cat fish Clarias gariepinus has been identified as a highly invasive fish in the Indian freshwater ecosystem and is posing a threat to native fish as well as other aquatic animals.
Mangrove For Future:-
Conservation of indigenous livestock:-
The eight national missions, which form the core of the NAPCC represent multi-pronged long-term and integrated strategies for achieving key goals in the context of climate change. These are the (1) Solar Energy Mission, (2) National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, (3) National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, (4) National Water Mission, (5) National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, (6) Green India Mission (7) National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and (8) National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change .
Protected Area Network of India:-
Background :-The Union Environment minister recently launched the Environment Information System (ENVIS) portal.
Protected Areas of India(as on 09 February, 2016)
% of Geographical Area of India (%)
National Parks (NPs)
Wildlife Sanctuaries (WLSs)
Conservation Reserves (CRs)
Protected Areas (PAs)
Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.The programme of Biosphere Reserve was initiated by UNESCO in 1971. The purpose of the formation of the biosphere reserve is to conserve in situ all forms of life, along with its support system, in its totality, so that it could serve as a referral system for monitoring and evaluating changes in natural ecosystems. The first biosphere reserve of the world was established in 1979, since then the network of biosphere reserves has increased to 631 in 119 countries across the world.
Presently, there are 18 notified biosphere reserves in India.
Name and location is important and special attention should be given to those which are notified post-2000:-
Date of Notification
Area (in km2)
(Core 1240 & Buffer 4280)
Part of Wayanad, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Madumalai, Nilambur, Silent Valley and Siruvani hills (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka).
(Core 712.12, Buffer 5,148.570) & T. 546.34)
Part of Chamoli, Pithoragarh, and Bageshwar districts (Uttarakhand).
(Core 47.48 & Buffer 227.92, Transition Zone 544.60)
Part of Garo hills (Meghalaya).
885 (Core 705 & Buffer 180)
Southern most islands of Andaman And Nicobar (A&N Islands).
Gulf of Mannar
Total Gulf area
(area of Islands 5.55 km2)
Indian part of Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka (Tamil Nadu).
(Core 391 & Buffer 2,446)
Part of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamprup and Darang districts (Assam)
(Core 1700 & Buffer 7900)
Part of delta of Ganges and Brahamaputra river system
(Core 845, Buffer 2129 & Transition 1400
Part of Mayurbhanj district (Orissa).
(Core 340 & Buffer 425)
Part of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts (Assam)
(Core 4094.80 &Buffer 1016.70)
Part of Siang and Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
Parts of Betul, Hoshangabad and Chindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh.
(Core 1819.34 & Buffer 835.92)
Parts of Khangchendzonga hills and Sikkim.
Neyyar, Peppara and Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuaries and their adjoining areas in Kerala.
Achanakamar – Amarkantak
(Core 551.55 & Buffer 3283.86)
Covers parts of Anupur and Dindori districts of M.P. and parts of Bilaspur districts of Chhattishgarh State.
Part of Kachchh, Rajkot, Surendra Nagar and Patan Civil Districts of Gujarat State
Pin Valley National Park and surroundings; Chandratal and Sarchu&Kibber Wildlife Sancturary in Himachal Pradesh
Seshachalam Hill Ranges covering parts of Chittoor and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh
Part of Panna and Chhattarpur districts in Madhya Pradesh
The Maps are old, and few of the proposed ones are already approved, so the maps should only be used to know the location of the reserves.
The concept of Biosphere Reserves, especially its zonation, into Core Area(s) (dedicated to conservation), Buffer Area(s) (sustainable use) and Transition Area(s) (equitable sharing of benefits) were later broadly adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD ) process which entered into force on 29th December, 1993. TheCBD has two principal objectives, namely ,‘Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity’ and ‘Fair and Equitable sharing of benefits arising from its utilization’.
The Articles 6-20 of CBD call for in-situ and ex-situ conservation, incentives for conservation and sustainable use, research and training, awareness and education,impact assessment, regulating access to genetic resources, access and transfer of technology and provisions of financial resources. While dealing with these issues, CBD emphasizes on nationally determined priorities, capacity and needs and with full and effective participation of local communities.
The Core Zone:
The core zone is kept absolutely undisturbed. It must contain suitable habitat for numerous plant and animal species, including higher order predators and may contain centres of endemism. Core areas often conserve the wild relatives of economic species and also represent important genetic reservoirs. The core zones also contain places of exceptional scientific interest. A core zone secures legal protection and management and research activities that do not affect natural processes and wildlife are allowed. Strict nature reserves and wilderness portions of the area are designated as core areas of BR. The core zone is to be kept free from all human pressures external to the system.
The Buffer Zone:
In the Buffer Zone, which adjoins or surrounds core zone, uses and activities are managed in ways that protect the core zone. These uses and activities include restoration, demonstration sites for enhancing value addition to the resources, limited recreation, tourism,fishing and grazing, which are permitted to reduce its effect on core zone. Research and educational activities are to be encouraged. Human activities, if natural within BR, are likely to be permitted to continue if these do not adversely affect the ecological diversity.
The Transition Zone:
The Transition Zone is the outermost part of a Biosphere Reserve. This is usually not delimited one and is a zone of cooperation where conservation, knowledge and management skills are applied and uses are managed in harmony with the purpose of the Biosphere Reserve. This includes settlements, crop lands, managed forests and area for intensive recreation, and other economic uses characteristic of the region. In Buffer Zone and the Transition Zones, manipulative macro-management practices are used. Experimental research areas are used for understanding the patterns and processes in the ecosystem. Modified or degraded landscapes are included as rehabilitation areas to restore the ecology in a way that it returns to sustainable productivity.
The characteristic features of Biosphere Reserves are:-
(1) Each Biosphere Reserves are protected areas of land and/or coastal environments wherein people are an integral component of the system. Together, they constitute a world wide network linked by International understanding for exchange of scientific information.
(2) The network of BRs include significant examples of biomes throughout the world.
(3) Each BR includes one or more of the following categories:-
(i) BRs are representative examples of natural biomes.
(ii) BRs conserve unique communities of biodiversity or areas with unusual natural features of exceptional interest . It is recognized that these representative areas may also contain unique features of landscapes, ecosystems and genetic variations e.g. one population of a globally rare species; their representativeness and uniqueness may both be characteristics of an area.
(iii) BRs have examples of harmonious landscapes resulting from traditional patterns of land-use.
(iv) BRs have examples of modified or degraded ecosystems capable of being restored to more natural conditions.
(v) BRs generally have a non-manipulative core area, in combination with areas in which baseline measurements, experimental and manipulative research, education and training is carried out. Where these areas are not contiguous, they can be associated in a cluster.
Functions of Biosphere Reserves:-
• To ensure the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variations.
• To encourage the traditional resource use systems;
• To understand the patterns and processes of functioning of ecosystems;
• To monitor the natural and human-caused changes on spatial and temporal scales;
• To promote, at the local level, economic development which is culturally, socially and ecologically sustainable.
• To develop the strategies leading to improvement and management of natural resources;
• To provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development
• Sharing of knowledge generated by research through site specific training and education
• Development of community spirit in the management of natural resources.
• A site that must contain an effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation and should include additional land and water suitable for research and demonstration of sustainable methods of research and management.
• The core area should be typical of a biogeographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all tropic levels in the ecosystem. Secondary criteria
• Areas having rare and endangered species
• Areas having diversity of soil and micro-climatic conditions and indigenous varieties of biota.
• Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment.
How Biosphere Reserves are different from protected areas such as National Parks (NP) and Wildlife Sanctuaries(WS)?
It may be noted that the BR is not intended to replace existing protected areas but it widens the scope of conventional approach of protection and further strengthens the Protected Area Network. Existing legally protected areas (National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuary, Tiger Reserve and reserve/protected forests) may become part of the BR without any change in their legal status. On the other hand, inclusion of such areas in a BR will enhance their national value. It, however, does not mean that Biosphere Reserves are to be established only around the National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. However, the Biosphere Reserves differ from protected areas due to their emphasis on :
(i) Conservation of overall biodiversity and landscape, rather than some specific flagship species, to allow natural and evolutionary processes to continue without any hindrance.
(ii) Different components of BRs like landscapes, habitats, and species and land races.
(iii) Developmental activities, and resolution/mitigation of conflicts between development and conservation,
(iv) Increase in broad-basing of stakeholders, especially local people’s participation and their Training, compared to the features of scheme on Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks.
(v) Sustainable environment friendly development, and sustained coordination amongst different development organizations and agencies.
(vi) Research and Monitoring to understand the structure and functioning of ecological system and their mode of reaction when exposed to human
RAMSAR Wetland Sites:-
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value
Name of Site
Date of Declaration
East Calcutta Wetlands
Jammu and Kashmir
Keoladeo Ghana NP
Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary
Pong Dam Lake
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir
Vembanad Kol Wetland
Upper Ganga River
(Brijghat to Narora Stretch)
Jammu & Kashmir
Natural World Heritage Sites:-
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as of special cultural or physical significance.
Project Tiger was launched by the Government of India in the year 1973 to save the endangered species of tiger in the country. Starting from nine (9) reserves in 1973-74 the number is grown up to forty eight (48). A total area of 69793.24 km2 is covered by these project tiger areas.
Tiger Reserves of India (as on February, 2016)
Name of Tiger Reserve
Area of the core / critical tiger habitat (In Sq. Kms.)