Natural Resource – Biodiversity Conservation part 2

Forest Protection:

Forest Protection Division deals with protection related issues like illegal felling of trees, deforestation, encroachment of forest land, invasive weeds, forest fires etc. Forest Protection Division is the nodal Division for disaster management related matters.

The Division administers Forest Fire Prevention & Management Scheme (FPM) which is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

Objective and Functions:            

ü  Nodal division for forest fires matters

ü  Implementation of National Action Plan on Forest Fire.

ü  Issues relating to forests protection including control of illicit felling of trees, deforestation, and encroachment of forest land

ü  Application of space technology for forest fire management which includes dissemination of forest fire alerts, pre-fire warning and assessment of burnt area by Forest Survey of India.

ü  Miscellaneous issues relating to forest protection, Parliamentary matters, etc.

ü  Nodal Division for Disaster management related matters

Activities undertaken  

Sensitization and preparatory workshop of all the divisions and associated institutions and organizations of MoEFCC on preparation of disaster management plan has been organized in coordination with the National Institute of Disaster Management on 5th November 2020.

Progress/Achievements

ü  During the current financial year (2020-21) under FPM Scheme, an amount of Rs.33 Crores has been allocated and out of this, expenditure of Rs.28.35 Crore has been incurred which is nearly 86.00 % as on 23.12.2020.

ü  The 2nd meeting of Central Monitoring Committee on Forest Fire was held on 15.10.2020 under the chairmanship of Secretary, MoEFCC through video conferencing.

Continuing committees/commissions-their work

A Central Monitoring Committee has been constituted in2019 under the Chairmanship of Secretary EF&CC to monitor the implementation of the National Action Plan on Forest Fire. The 2nd meeting of Central Monitoring Committee on Forest Fire was held on 15.10.2020 under the chairmanship of Secretary, MoEF & CC through video conferencing.

Forest Fire Prevention and Management: The scheme supports the efforts of States Governments and UT Administrations in prevention and control of forest fire by providing financial assistance for various forest fire prevention and management measures.

Long Term Objectives

ü  To minimize forest fire incidences and assist in restoring productivity of forests in affected areas.

ü  To institutionalize the partnership with forest fringe communities for forest protection.

ü  To contribute to the larger goal of maintaining environmental stability.

ü  To prepare fire danger rating system and devise forest fire forecasting system.

ü  To encourage the States and UTs for optimal use of modern technology (such as Remote Sensing, GPS and GIS) in planning, developing and operationalizing Fire prevention and management system

ü  To develop knowledge on impacts and dynamics of forest fire

Short Term Objectives

ü  To carry out effective awareness campaign for prevention of forest fire.

ü  To effectively prevent and control forest fires by improving the traditional practices and employing available modern methods.

ü  To impart suitable training to the field staff and forest fringe communities on fire fighting withhelp of prescribed means and methods in the forest areas.

ü  To encourage community participation in prevention and control of forest fire.

ü  To develop and strengthen Forestry Infrastructure of the States and UTs that is required for effective prevention and management of Forest fire.

Progress/Achievements:

During the current year 2020-21 (from 01.04.2020 to 27.11.2020), an amount of Rs 23.55Crore has been sanctioned under the FPM scheme to various States and UTs. 2.12

Wildlife Conservation

The Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India is the nodal Division which deals with the policy, legal and finances for the conservation of wildlife in the Country. The Division is headed by the Additional Director General of Forests (Wildlife) who is also designated as the Director, Wildlife Preservation under the Wild Life(Protection) Act, 1792. The Division also provides technical support to the State/UT Governments for conservation of wildlife and their habitats through the Centrally Sponsored Scheme - Development of Wildlife Habitats (CSS-DWH).

Activities undertaken

ü  Hosting of 13th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species

ü  Enhancement of Protected Area Network in the Country

ü  Effective decision making in development related projects

ü  Declaration of Eco-Sensitive Zones

ü  Initiation of Project Lion and Project Dolphin

ü  Advisory on Exotic animals

ü  Artificial conservation breeding of Great Indian Bustard (GIB)

ü  Celebration of World Rhino Day, 2020

ü  Action Plan for Vulture Conservation in India (2020-2025)

ü  Release of a documentary on Dr. Salim Ali, Ornithologist

ü  Marine Mammal Stranding Management Policy

ü  Indo-German Development Cooperation Project on “Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in India

ü  Securing livelihoods, conservation, sustainable use and restoration of high range Himalayan

ü  Ecosystems (SECURE Himalaya) Project

ü  Financial assistance for Recovery programme of critically Endangered Species under Centrally Sponsored Scheme- Development of Wildlife Habitat

Progress/Achievements

Hosting of 13th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species: The Government of India successfully hosted the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMSCOP13), during 17th-22nd February, 2020 at Gandhinagar, Gujarat which was attended by representatives from several countries besides Heads of various biodiversity related Inter-Governmental Organizations. A “Gandhinagar Declaration” was adopted during the COP which envisages “ Connectivity” amongst landscapes, habitats, amongst the various conventions and also between the people and ecosystems for ensuring better conservation of migratory species across the globe.

The hosting of the COP has enabled India to prove as a true global leader. The CMSCOP Presidency for the next three years will usher India in playing a very important role in Marine conservation including conservation of marine species. India would also be playing a leadership role and would be the nerve centre for conservation of migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) by establishing a common platform for institutionalizing the migratory bird conservation along the CAF. The CMS COP Presidency would enable India to enhance its cooperation with CMS countries for conservation of migratory species and also in developing linkage with Non CMS countries under SAARC (Nepal, Bhutan), ASEAN and EAS countries

Enhancement of Protected Area Network in the Country:

Protected areas are a proven instrument for conservation of biodiversity and can strengthen the resilience of ecosystems and landscapes to climate change and also provide safety through their genetic resources and ecosystem services. India has over 20% of the total geographical area under managed forests and thus under effective nature conservation, thereby exceeding the 17% Aichi target 11. The number of Protected Areas in the country, which stood at 771 in the year 2018 have risen to 903 PAs at present, which are spread in an area of165012.59 sq.km. This accounts for 5.02% of the country’s total geographic area. With more impetus on people’s participation in conservation and people based conservation initiatives in the Country, there has been a substantial increase in establishment of Community Reserves. The numbers of Community Reserves in the country has increased from 46 in the year 2018 to 163 at present.

Effective decision making in development related projects:

The Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (SC-NBWL) has been meeting regularly. In order to enhance the efficiency of the decision making process, and to save time and cost, all the three (03) meetings of the Standing Committee of NBWL were convened through Video Conferencing in the year 2020. Declaration of Eco-Sensitive Zones around wildlife Protected Areas minimizes the adverse impact of development projects near wildlife habitats. During the year 2020,fourty seven (47) numbers of Eco-Sensitive Zones have been notified.

Initiation of Project Lion and Project Dolphin:

Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, during his Independence Day speech to the nation on15th August 2020, had announced initiation of “Project Lion” and “Project Dolphin” (both riverine and marine) for better conservation of the species and their habitats in lines of ‘Project Tiger’. The Project Lion will entail habitat development, engage modern technologies in Lion management and address the issues of disease in Lion and its associated species through advanced world class research and veterinary care. The project will also address Human-wildlife conflict and will be inclusive involving local communities living in the vicinity of Lion landscape and will also provide livelihood opportunities through activities such as eco-tourism, promotion of local art and handicrafts, home stays etc.

The Project Dolphin will involve conservation of Dolphins (both riverine and marine) and the aquatic habitat through use of modern technology specially in enumeration and anti-poaching activities. The project will engage the fishermen and other river/ ocean dependent population and will strive for improving the livelihood of the local communities through additional economic incentives. Under the Project, awareness on conservation of dolphins and enhancement of livelihood opportunities through ‘Dolphin Tourism’ are key components. The conservation of Dolphin will also envisage activities which will also help in the mitigation of pollution in rivers and in the oceans.

Advisory on Exotic animals:

In India, several species are listed in the Wild Life (protection) Act, 1972 and are protected. However, exotic species are imported to India and bred in captivity without proper registration. Considering this, the Ministry had issued an Advisory in June, 2020 for Voluntary Disclosure of Exotic Live Species, with the objectives of creating a unified information system of the stock of exotic live species at the State/Central level through voluntary disclosure and the use of that database towards controlling and management of zoonotic diseases, and for facilitating better management of the species and providing guidance to their holders for their proper care and well-being. The entire registration process has been made through a hassle free online system for the benefit of the importers and owners of exotic live animals as well as for the concerned authorities. This effort of the Ministry has also been lauded by the Hon’ble Apex Court of India. Ministry is contemplating in widening the scope of the advisory to include non - CITES listed exotic species also.’

Artificial conservation breeding of Great Indian Bustard (GIB):

Under the programme ‘Habitat Improvement and Conservation Breeding of Great Indian Bustard-an integrated approach’, eggs of Great Indian Bustard were collected from the wild and artificially incubated and hatched at the world’s first ever Conservation Breeding Centre established for artificial breeding of Great Indian Bustard at Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Seven (07) eggs of GIB were collected and artificially incubated and hatched during March- October, 2020. A total of16 Great Indian Bustard chicks have been artificially hatched from eggs collected from wild till date. The oldest chick is 16 months of age. The birds from the breeding centre would be released into the wild after the successful breeding of more birds in the centre.

Celebration of World Rhino Day, 2020:

To emphasize the importance of conservation of Rhinoceros species and its habitats, the Ministry celebrated the World Rhino Day, 2020 on 22nd September,2020 through virtual platform in the esteem presence of Shri Babul Supriyo, Hon’ble Minister of State for EF&CC. The senior officials of the Ministry, State Forest Departments and other organizations such as Central Zoo Authority, WWF-India, UNDP etc. also attended the programme. Deliberations on the Actions taken by Rhino bearing States on the “New Delhi Declaration” were also held during the programme.

Celebrating Wildlife Week, 2020:

The Ministry celebrated Wildlife Week during the 1st week of October 2020,coinciding the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. To instill the conservation ethos amongst the general public, Hon’ble Prime Minister had delivered a message on the occasion which was widely circulated. Activities like painting competition, webinars, documentaries, wildlife photography competition, etc aiming at generating awareness amongst the people, especially students were taken up during the entire week through virtual media, considering the Covid pandemic.

Action Plan for Vulture Conservation in India (2020-2025):

The Ministry launched the five year Action Plan for Vulture Conservation in India(2020-2025) in November, 2020. The Action Plan has identified priority actions for the conservation of vultures and their habitats. It also advocates prevention of misuse of veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and awareness of the importance of conservation of vultures. The other important objectives of the Action Plan are to institute a system, which automatically removes a drug from veterinary use if it is found to be toxic to vultures, establishment of additional Vulture Conservation Breeding Centres (VCBCs),Vulture safe zones in every State and establishment of dedicated vulture rescue centres in the country. At present, the focus was on conser South Asia which are within the distribution range of the vultures, as well as from SAVE, a consortium of NGOs and International Conservation Organizations which are actively working towards conservation of South Asian Vultures

Indo-German Development Cooperation Project on Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in India:

The Indo-German technical cooperation project “Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation(HWC) in India” is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the State Forest Departments of Karnataka, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. The project aims at providing technical support at the National level and in Partner States for effective implementation of Human Wildlife Conflict mitigation measures. The main objective of the project is that the rural population in project areas, where agreed guideline sand tools are applied to mitigate human wildlife conflicts, is better protected against Human Wildlife Conflict. The project takes the approach of harmonious coexistence, by ensuring that both – human and wildlife – are protected from conflicts. This approach follows the modern wildlife conservation principles to balance the needs of people with the conservation of nature.

 

The blog on Natural Resource- Biodiversity Conservation part 2 pertains to paper GS-3 Biodiversity, Environment security. Don’t forget to subscribe so that you never miss out on such important and interesting topics. Check out our previous blogs on various topics here.

Blog Post written by:
Anurag Trivedi
UPSC Mentor