Biodiversity Conservation:In-situ and Ex-Situ—>National Parks,Biosphere Reserves and Sanctuaries

Biodiversity is the biological diversity which includes the variety of the whole species present on earth. It includes different animals, plants, micro-organisms and their genes, water ecosystems, terrestrial, and marine ecosystems in which they all are present.

Biodiversity is necessary for our existence as well as valuable in its own right. This is because it provides the fundamental building blocks for the many goods and services which provides a healthy environment to lead our life.

Biodiversity Conservation Methods

There are two main methods of biodiversity conservation

In-situ biodiversity conservation

In-situ conservation means the conservation of species within their natural habitats, this way of conserving biodiversity is the most appropriate method for biodiversity conservation. In this strategy you have to find out the area with high biodiversity means the area in which number of plants and animals are present. After that this high biodiversity area should be covered in the form of natural park/ sanctuary/biosphere reserve etc. In this way biodiversity can be conserve in their natural habitat from human activities.

Ex-Situ conservation methods

Ex-situ conservation involves the conservation of biological diversity outside of their natural habitats. This involves conservation of genetic resources, as well as wild and cultivated or species, and draws on a diverse body of techniques and facilities.

Ex-situ Biodiversity conservation can be done as following:

• By forming Gene banks: In this store seeds, sperm & ova at extremely low temperature and humidity.

• It is very helpful to save large variety of species of plants & animals in a very small space. e.g. sperm and ova banks, seed banks.

• Forming Zoo and botanical garden: for research purpose and to increase public awareness collecting living organisms for aquaria, zoos and botanic gardens.

• Collections of In vitro plant tissue and microbial culture.

• Captive breeding of animals and artificial propagation of plants, with possible reintroduction into the wild.

Ex-situ biodiversity conservation strategy also plays an important role in recovery programmes for endangered species. The Kew Seed Bank in England has 1.5 per cent of the world’s flora – about 4,000 species – on deposit.

In agriculture, ex-situ conservation measures maintain domesticated plants which cannot survive in nature unaided.

It provides good platform for research opportunities on the components of biological diversity. Some of the institutions also play a major role in public education and in increasing awareness among public by bringing members of the public into contact with plants and animals they may not normally come in contact with. It is estimated over 600 million people visit zoos every year worldwide.

National Park is a  place designated for biodiversity conservation. National Park declared by the Central Government such animal or any article, trophy, uncured trophy or meat [derived from such animal or any vehicle, vessel, weapon, trap, or tool used in such hunting, ] shall be the property of Central Government.

National park is an area which is strictly reserved for the betterment of the wildlife & biodiversity, and where activities like developmental, forestry, poaching, hunting and grazing on cultivation are not permitted. In these parks, even private ownership rights are not allowed. Their boundaries are well marked and circumscribed. They are usually small reserves spreading in an area of 100 sq. km. to 500 sq. km. In national parks, the emphasis is on the preservation of a single floral or faunal species.

A biosphere reserve is an ecosystem with plants and animals of unusual scientific and natural interest. It is a label given by UNESCO to help protect the sites. The plan is to promote management, research and education in ecosystem conservation. This includes the ‘sustainable use of natural resources’. If, for example, fish or trees are taken for human use, this is done in ways which least damage the ecosystem.


Any area other than area comprised with any reserve forest or the territorial waters can be notified by the State Government to constitute as a sanctuary if such area is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural. or zoological significance, for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife or its environment. Some restricted human activities are allowed inside the Sanctuary area details of which are given in CHAPTER IV, WPA 1972.


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India’s Ecological Regions and : Flora and Fauna

Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life.

The corresponding term for animal life is fauna. Flora, fauna and other forms of life such as fungi are collectively referred to as biota. Sometimes bacteria and fungi are also referred to as flora, as in the terms gut flora or skin flora.

As for India the country  may be divided into the following five ecological sub-regions for studying its flora and fauna:

1.The Himalayan Mountain System:

The unique floral wealth of the Himalayas is undergoing structural and compositional changes due to climate change. The increase in temperature is shifting various species to higher elevations. The oak forest is being invaded by pine forests in the Garhwal Himalayan region. There are reports of early flowering and fruiting in some tree species, especially rhododendron, apple and box myrtle. The highest known tree species in the Himalayas is Juniperus tibetica located at 4,900 metres (16,080 ft) in Southeastern Tibet.

This region is  divided into the following  regions with their characteristic wildlife:

(a) The Himalaya Foothills:

Big mammals of north India like elephant, sambar, swamp deer, cheetal, hog deer, great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, wild buffalo, golden langur, etc.

(b) Western Himalayas (high altitude region):

Wild ass, wild goats (thar, markhor, ibex) and sheep (Nayan, Marcopolo’s sheep, bharal or blue sheep); antelopes (chiru and Tibetan gazelle), deers (hangul or Kashmir stag and slou or Sikkim stag, musk deer); smaller mammals like marmots and pikas, etc.

(c) Eastern Himalayas:

Red panda, hog badgers, crestless porcupines, goat antelopes (scrow, goral, takins).

2.Peninsular Indian Sub-region:

This is a true home of Indian wildlife with two distinct zones

(a) peninsular India and its extension into the drainage basin of the Ganges river system, and

(b) desert region of Rajasthan.

(a) Peninsular India:

It is the home of wildlife thriving in tropical moist deciduous to tropical dry deciduous vegetation. Important fauna include elephant; wild boar; deers (cheetal or axis deer, hog deer, swamp deer or barasinga, sambhar); antelopes (four-horned antelope, nilgai, blackbuck, etc.); wild dog; and gaur (a bull).

(b) Indian Desert:

Animals are mostly burrowing ones. Among mammals rodents are the largest group. The Indian desert gerbils are mouselike rodents. Other animals are wild ass, blackbuck, desert cat, caracal, etc. Among birds the most famous is Great Indian bustard.

3.Tropical Evergreen Forest Region or Indo-Malayan Sub-region:

The region with heavy rainfall is very rich in animals. There are wild elephants, gore and other larger animals. Most species are tree dwellers. The most prominent ones are hoolock gibbons (only ape found in India), golden langur, capped langur or leaf monkey, etc.

4.Andaman and Nicobar Islands:

The Andaman and Nicobar islands are home to some of the richest varieties of flora and fauna, with 86% of the islands covered in primary tropical rain-forests. Of the 2000 plus species of plants that grow on the islands, at least 1,300 are exclusive and not found in mainland India.

its marine life is phenomenal.The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park just outside of Port Blair offers ecotourism experiences in Jolly Buoy island as well as Red Skin (the alternative when Jolly Buoy is closed). Owing to its endless coast, the islands also offer an interesting variety of seashells and have become part of the island’s lifeline. These colourful and natural sea shells (once even served as money) are now used as ornaments, souveniers, in local cottage industries and even as musical instruments.

These islands are home to many species of mammals, reptiles and marine aniinals. Among mammals, bats and rats are predominant. They constitute about 75 per cent of the total mammals found on islands. Pigs, crab-eating macaque, palm civet and deers are other important land animals of the islands. Dugong, false killer whale and dolphin are prominent marine mammals. The islands house rare birds such as Narcondum hornbill, Nicobar pigeon and megapode.

5.Mangrove Swamps of Sunderbans:

A total 245 genera and 334 plant species were recorded by David Prain in 1903.While most of the mangroves in other parts of the world are characterised by members of the Rhizophoraceae, Avicenneaceae or Combretaceae, the mangroves of Bangladesh are dominated by the Malvaceae and Euphorbiaceae.

The Sundarbans flora is characterised by the abundance of sundari (Heritiera fomes), gewa (Excoecaria agallocha), goran (Ceriops decandra) and keora (Sonneratia apetala) all of which occur prominently throughout the area. The characteristic tree of the forest is the sundari (Heritiera littoralis), from which the name of the forest had probably been derived. It yields a hard wood, used for building houses and making boats, furniture and other things. New forest accretions is often conspicuously dominated by keora (Sonneratia apetala) and tidal forests. It is an indicator species for newly accreted mudbanks and is an important species for wildlife, especially spotted deer (Axis axis). There is abundance of dhundul or passur (Xylocarpus granatum) and kankra (Bruguiera gymnorhiza) though distribution is discontinuous. Among palms, Poresia coaractata, Myriostachya wightiana and golpata (Nypa fruticans), and among grasses spear grass (Imperata cylindrica) and khagra (Phragmites karka) are well distributed.

The varieties of the forests that exist in Sundarbans include mangrove scrub, littoral forest, saltwater mixed forest, brackish water mixed forest and swamp forest. Besides the forest, there are extensive areas of brackish water and freshwatermarshes, intertidal mudflats, sandflats, sand dunes with typical dune vegetation, open grassland on sandy soils and raised areas supporting a variety of terrestrial shrubs and trees. Since Prain’s report there have been considerable changes in the status of various mangrove species and taxonomic revision of the man-grove flora. However, very little exploration of the botanical nature of the Sundarbans has been made to keep up with these changes. Differences in vegetation have been explained in terms of freshwater and low salinity influences in the Northeast and variations in drainage and siltation. The Sundarbans has been classified as a moist tropical forest demonstrating a whole mosaic of seres, comprising primary colonisation on new accretions to more mature beach forests. Historically vegetation types have been recognised in broad correlation with varying degrees of water salinity, freshwater flushing and physiography.

Fish, small crabs, and the Dorippe (having an unusual association with sea anemone), weaver ants, spotted deer, pigs, lizards, etc., are important animal lives. There is also the tiger of Sunderbans.

Endangered Animal Species Some of our animals have already become extinct and there are many others facing danger of extinction. All stich species have been classified into three categories: endangered, threatened and vulnerable.

Endangered species are those considered in imminent danger of extinction, while threatened species are those that are likely to become endangered—at least locally—within the foreseeable future. Vulnerable species are naturally rare or have been locally depleted by human activities to a level that puts them at risk.

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Solar Revolution on India’s Roofs

The solar revolution on India’s rooftops is gaining momentum. The country added more rooftop solar power capacity in the last financial year than in the previous four years combined, making it the fastest-growing segment in the country’s clean energy space. During the financial year 2017, some 715 megawatts (MW) of systems were added, up from…

via India’s rooftop solar market is on fire — Quartz

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Wildlife Conservation Projects and India’s Forest Policy

India is one of the few countries which has a forest policy since 1894. The policy was revised in 1952 and again in 1988. The main plank of the revised forest policy of 1988 is protection, conservation and development of forests.

Its aims are:

  1. Maintenance of environmental stability” through preservation and restoration of ecological balance;
  2. Conservation of natural heritage;

  3. Checking soil erosion and denudation in catchment areas of rivers, lakes and reservoirs;

  4. Checking extension of sand dunes in desert areas of Rajasthan and along coastal tracts;

  5. Substantially increasing forest/tree cover through massive afforestation and social forestry programmes;

  6. Taking steps to meet requirements of fuel, wood, fodder, minor forest produce, soil and timber of rural and tribal populations;

  7. Increasing productivity of forests to meet the national needs;

  8. Encouraging efficient utilisation of forest produce and optimum substitution of wood; and

  9. Taking steps to create massive people’s movement with involvement of women to achieve the objectives and minimise pressure on existing forests.

An Integrated Forest Protection Scheme (IFPS) was being implemented during the Tenth Five Year Plan and is being continued during Eleventh Plan.

The Planning Commission suggested renaming the scheme as ‘Intensification of Forest Management’ during the 11th Five Year Plan. It is proposed to broad-base the scheme by including following two new components in addition to the existing components of IFPS, i.e., infrastructure development and forest fire control management.

The new components are: conservation and restoration of unique vegetation and eco-systems; protection and conservation of sacred groves; and joint forest management (JFM). The conceptual framework for JFM emphasises development of partnerships with forest fringe people.

The Government of India has assigned the ownership of minor forest produce to the people living in and around forests for the purpose of collection, processing, trade and marketing through a national level legislation named as the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest rights) Act, 2006. This will help the forest-dependent people to improve their economy.

Forest Conservation Act:

To check indiscriminate deforestation and diversion of forest land for industrial or construction work the Forest Conservation Act was enacted in 1980. The Act was amended in 1988 to further facilitate prevention of forest destruction.

The basic objective of the Act is to put a check on the indiscriminate diversion of forest lands. Under the provisions of this Act, prior approval of the Central government is required for diversion of forest land to non-forest purposes. Since the enactment of the Act, the rate of diversion of forest land has come down.

As diversion of forest land is normally not favoured, permission under this Act is difficult to obtain. The rare exceptions carry stipulations for compensatory afforestation and other conditions as laid down in the Act and in the National Forest Policy, 1988.

National Forest Commission:

The National Forest Commission was set up in 2003. It submitted its report in March 2006.

Some of the commission’s recommendations are:

i. Emphasis on the need to undertake scientific research to assess the optimum forest/tree cover according to forest type and topography to meet the intended objectives.

ii. Amendment of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

iii. The forest department should implement the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Environment Protection Act.

iv. Re-scheduling of species under Wildlife Protection Act to avoid man-animal conflict.

v. No further amendment and dilution of Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

vi. No change in the National Forest Policy of 1988.

Wildlife and its Conservation:

The term ‘wildlife’ refers to the wild undomesticated animals living in their natural habitats such as forests, deserts, grasslands, etc.


The primary reasons of extinction of wildlife are as follows:

(i) Destruction of their natural habitats due to expanding agriculture, urbanisation and industrialisation.

(iii Overgrazing by domestic animals that convert the areas into deserts.

(iii) Poaching for meat, skin, fur, ivory, rhino horns, etc.

(iv) Export of some species.

The endangered species include the Asiatic lion, a rare wild animal that survives in India alone. It is found in the Gir National Park (Gujarat) and in the Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary (near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh). They also famous for crocodiles, panthers and nilgais. The Chandraprabha Sanctuary preserves the sambhar, chital, tiger, panther and the sloth bear as well.

Another fast disappearing species is the one-horned rhinoceros which is housed in the Kaziranga National Park (Assam), the home of wild buffaloes, tigers and sambhars as well, and the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, also in Assam, which is famous for wild buffaloes, rhinos and elephants. The Kashmir stag or hangul which is found in the Dachigam National Park (Kashmir) has been identified as yet another endangered species.

Conservation of Wildlife:

Due to continuous increase in the number of endangered species, many steps have been taken to protect and manage the wildlife of the country. Government and non­government organisations have been set up to protect the wildlife.

The wildlife management in India aims at (i) protection of natural habitats through a controlled and limited exploitation of species; (ii) maintenance of the viable number of species in protected areas (national park, sanctuary, biosphere reserve, etc.); (iii) establishment of biosphere reserves for plant and animal species; and (iv) protection through legislation.

A number of Wildlife Acts have been made from time to time by the Union and the state governments.

Important among them are:

(i) Madras Wild Elephant Preservation Act, 1873

(ii) All India Elephant Preservation Act, 1879

(iii) The Wild Birds and Animals Prohibition Act, 1912

(iv) Bengal Rhinoceros Preservation Act, 1932

(v) Assam Rhinoceros Preservation Act, 1954

(vi) Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL), 1952

(vii) Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960

(viii) Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Protected Areas Network:

Conservation of wildlife is a comprehensive system of protected areas. There are different categories of protected areas with different objectives. These include national parks, sanctuaries, biosphere reserve, nature, natural monuments, cultural landscapes, etc.

The biosphere reserve programme was launched by the UNESCO in 1971 to (a) conserve representative samples of ecosystems, (b) provide long-term in-situ conservation of genetic diversity, and (c) promote appropriate and sustainable managements of the living resources. In India, the first biosphere reserve—Nilgiri biosphere reserve— came into being in 1986.

Project Tiger:

Project Tiger was launched in 1973 on the basis of the recommendations of a special task force of the Indian Board of Wildlife to (i) ensure maintenance of available population of tiger in India, and (ii) preserve the areas of such biological importance as a national heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people.

Project Elephant:

In India elephants are mainly to be found in the rain forests of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala; the tropical forests of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Central India, and the western region; and the Himalayan foothills in the north-east and Uttarakhand. India has about 25,000 elephants.

The elephant habitat has shrunk over the years, and poaching for elephant tusks has endangered the species, especially in southern India. Construction of roads and dams has led to encroachment of forest lands, interfering with the traditional migratory routes of elephants necessary for them in their search for food.

Conversion of natural forests to monocrop plantations for commercial purposes has also been harmful. The forced isolation of elephants in reserves has often led to inbreeding with the consequential negative effects.

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 Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

(i) Ecological restoration of existing natural habitats and migratory routes of elephants;

(ii) Development of scientific and planned management for conservation of elephant habitats and viable population of wild Asiatic elephants in India;

(iii) Promotion of measures for mitigation of man-elephant conflict in crucial habitats and moderating pressures of human and domestic stock activities in crucial elephant habitats:

(iv) Strengthening of measures for protection of wild elephants from poachers and unnatural causes of death;

(v) Research on issues related to management of elephant conservation;

(vi) Public education and awareness programmes;

(vii) Eco-development;

(viii) Veterinary care; and

(ix) Building up the stock of field staff, mahouts and veterinarians.

Protecting Vultures:

The report of the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries made a shocking revelation on the population of vultures that has decimated in the entire region of South Asia. One of the major causes of decimation of the population of vultures is the pharmaceutical drug, diclofenac, which is toxic to the bird even at relatively low dosage.

In May 2006, the Government of India initiated preventive actions to curb further decline in the population of vultures which also includes banning the use of diclofenac in the veterinary sector.

Protecting Gharials:

It was reported in 2008, that since mid-December 2007 dozens of the rare Indian crocodile, known as the gharial, had turned up dead on the banks of the Chambal River. They perished, apparently as a result of a mysterious liver disease, while the population of these animals in the wild has been dropping steadily.

The gharial (a fish-eating crocodile with a long snout), native to South Asia, is one of the most endangered freshwater crocodile species. The World Wide Fund for Nature believes it is extinct in its former habitats of Pakistan, Bhutan and Myanmar. Now, it is reported only from India and Nepal.

The government set up protected areas along the Chambal to prevent poaching of their skin for high-grade crocodile leather, and it raises eggs in captivity to protect them from predators.

Eco-development Scheme:

An eco- development scheme in and around national parks and sanctuaries including tiger reserves was also launched to provide alternate sources of sustenance to the communities living at the fringes of national parks and sanctuaries including tiger reserves, to improve the ecological productivity of the buffer zones of protected areas through the involvement of these communities in protecting these sanctuaries and national parks and their wild­life; through a well-designed package of activities aimed at providing sustenance to the forest side communities and ameliorating their hardships to minimise conflicts between those communities and the protection staffs.

Steps Needed:

Awareness should be created on the importance of wildlife in the ecological scheme. Hunting should be strictly controlled. Poaching should be stopped. Captive breeding of wildlife should be taken up on a larger scale, even as more reserves and national parks are developed.


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