Conservation of Biodiversity


We must make every effort to preserve, conserve and manage biodiversity. Protected areas, from large
wilderness reserves to small sites for particular species and reserves for controlled uses, will all be part of the process of biodiversity conservation. Protected areas are legally established sites managed for conservation of biodiversity.
Worldwide about 8,163 protected areas cover over 750 million hectares of marine and terrestrial
ecosystems, amounting to 1.5 percent of Earth’s surface.
India is the second most populous country, and therefore any plan attempting at conservation must
consider socio-economic development as the mounting human pressure threatens the biotic resources of
the country. Furthermore, ours is predominantly an agriculture country, and hence, policy makers should
realize that conservation and sustainable utilization of biodiversity is the key to all developmental
planning projects.
There are two approaches of biodiversity conservation namely in situ (on site) conservation which tries to protect the specie where they are, i.e., in their natural habitat and ex situ (off site) conservation which attempts to protect and preserve a species in place away from its natural habitat.

 In situ Conservation Biodiversity Conservation:

In situ conservation means the conservation of ecosystem and natural habitat and maintenance and
recovery of viable population of species in the natural surrounding where they have developed their
distinctive characteristics.
In situ conservation methods pertain to conserving animals and plants in their natural habitats. It emphasizes the preservation and protection of total ecosystems at their original or natural environment.
 The main objective is to recognize a particular biodiversity rich area and to preserve it so that the biodiversity can continue to flourish and evolve. This involves establishment of protected areas, national parks, sanctuaries, biosphere reserves, reserve forests etc. over past few decades there has been an increase in the number of such areas.
In situ conservation of biodiversity is advantageous in that
  • it is a cheap and convenient method that requires people’s our supportive role.
  • It maintains all organisms at different trophic levels from producers to top consumers such as carnivores. In natural environment, organisms not only live and multiply butalso evolve and continue to maintain their ability to resist various environmental tresses such as drought,storm, snow, temperature fluctuations, excessive rains, flood, fires, pathogens etc.
  • In situ conservation requires only elimination of factors detrimental to the existence of the species and allows the larger number of species to grow simultaneously and flourish in their natural environment in which they weregrowing since a long time.
The only disadvantage of in situ  biodiversity conservation is that it requires larger areas
and minimizes the space for inhibiting human population which is increasing tremendously.
The following areas may be set aside for in situ biodiversity conservation:

1. National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries

These are legally constituted protected areas for conserving both flora and fauna of a region. In India, the
Wildlife Protection act of 1972 empowers the State Governments to declare an area as a Sanctuary or National Park. This is done for protecting, propagating and developing wildlife and its environment.
Section 18 to 34 and 38 of the Act, deal with the declaration of sanctuaries, Section 35 and 38 with
National Parks and Section 37 with closed areas.
There are 104 national parks and 543 wildlife Sanctuaries, 47 Conservation Reserves and 4 Community Reserves in the country, covering 4.90% of total geographic area.
National parks (NP): A National Park is an area of land set aside to conserve the scenery (or
environment) and natural objects and the wildlife therein.
Under sec. 35 of the wildlife Protection Act(1972), whenever it appears to the State Government that an area, whether within a sanctuary or not, is by reason of its ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological or zoological importance, needed to be constituted as a National park for the purpose of propagating or developing wildlife therein or its environment, it may, by notification, declare its intention to constitute such as a National Park.
All kinds of destruction, exploitation and removal of wildlife and damage to the habitat of any animal are strictly prohibited inside a National park. Grazing of domestic animals is also prohibited. However, the Chief Wildlife Warden may, after prior approval of the state government, permit destruction, exploitation and removal of wildlife from the NP if necessary for the improvement and better management of wildlife
Wildlife Sanctuaries (WLS): Similar to the National park, a wildlife sanctuary is dedicated to protect
wildlife, but it considers the conservation of species only and also the boundary of it is not limited by
state legislation. Under Section 26-A (b) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, the state government
may declare any area comprised within any reserve forest or any part of territorial waters which is
considered to be of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural or zoological
significance for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife or its environment to be
included in a sanctuary. As per provision of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 no person shall destroy,exploit or remove any wildlife from a sanctuary, or destroy or damage the habitat of any wild animal or deprive any wild animal from its habitat, except the permission granted by Chief Wildlife Warden, after prior approval of the state government. Also, no person allowed moving freely inside the sanctuary except with the permission of the authorities.
The permanent residents of the area are bound to perform certain duties such as helping in controlling fire damage, to report about dead animals and render all kinds of help in resisting the offenders.
Conservation Reserves can be declared by the State Governments in any area owned by the
Government, particularly the areas adjacent to National Parks and Sanctuaries and those areas which link
one Protected Area with another. Such declaration should be made after having consultations with the
local communities. Conservation Reserves are declared for the purpose of protecting landscapes,
seascapes, flora and fauna and their habitat. The rights of people living inside a Conservation Reserve are not affected.
Community Reserves can be declared by the State Government in any private or community land, not
comprised within a National Park, Sanctuary or a Conservation Reserve, where an individual or a
community has volunteered to conserve wildlife and its habitat. Community Reserves are declared for the
purpose of protecting fauna, flora and traditional or cultural conservation values and practices. As in the
case of a Conservation Reserve, the rights of people living inside a Community Reserve are not affected

Biosphere reserve

Biosphere reserves have been described as undisturbed natural areas for scientific study as well as areas in which conditions of disturbance are under control. They have been set aside for ecological research and habitat preservation.
Biosphere Reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which are
internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme launched in 1971.
These reserves are required to meet a minimal set of criteria and adhere to a minimal set of conditions before being admitted to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves designated by UNESCO for inclusion in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The world’s major ecosystem types
and landscapes are represented in this Network, which is devoted to conserving biological diversity,
promoting research and monitoring as well as seeking to provide models of sustainable development in
the service of mankind.
The objectives of the programme(MAB) are:
  1.  Conserve biotic diversity for ecological evidence.
  2.  Safeguard genetic diversity for the process of evolution to act upon.
  3.  Provide natural areas for basic and applied research in ecology and environmental biology.
  4.  Provide opportunity for environmental education and training.
  5.  Promote international co-operation.
  6.  Promote appropriate sustainable management of the available biotic resources.
  7.  Disseminate the experience so as to promote sustainable development elsewhere.
These reserves are rich in biological and cultural diversity and encompass unique features of
exceptionally pristine nature. The goal is to facilitate conservation of representative landscapes and their
immense biological diversity and cultural heritage, foster economic and human development which is
culturally and ecologically sustainable and to provide support for research, monitoring, education and
information exchange. The Scheme is a pioneering effort at pursuing the increasingly difficult yet urgent
task of conserving ecological diversity under mounting pressures.
The main features of biosphere reserve are:
  1. They are representative areas of specific terrestrial and coastal environment of country, continent or the entire earth planet that must be conserved for posterity;
  2.  They are representative example of the natural or minimally disturbed ecosystem;
  3.  The extent and size of such areas is large enough to function as a unit of conservation; and
  4.  Biosphere Reserves remain and function as an open system; changes in land use are not usually allowed.
The country’s first biosphere reserve came into being on 1st August 1986 in Nilgiri, covering 5520 km2 in
Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Including this one, in all 18 Biosphere Reserves covering an area of
74,275.60 km2 (Table- 4), have been set up in the country.
Sl. No Year Name State Type Key Fauna
1 2008 Great Rann of Kutch Gujarat Desert Indian Wild Ass
2 1989 Gulf of Mannar Tamil Nadu Coasts Dugong or Sea Cow
3 1989 Sundarbans West Bengal Gangetic Delta Royal Bengal Tiger
4 2009 Cold Desert Himachal Pradesh Western Himalayas Snow Leopard
5 1988 Nanda Devi Uttarakhand Western Himalayas NA
6 1986 Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka Western Ghats Nilgiri Tahr, Lion-tailed macaque
7 1998 Dihang-Dibang Arunachal Pradesh Eastern Himalaya NA
8 1999 Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve Madhya Pradesh Semi-Arid Giant Squirrel, Flying Squirrel
9 2010 Seshachalam Hills Andhra Pradesh Eastern Ghats NA
10 1994 Simlipal Odisha Deccan Peninsula Gaur, Royal Bengal Tiger, Wild elephant
11 2005 Achanakamar -Amarkantak Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Maikala Hills NA
12 1989 Manas Assam East Himalayas Golden Langur, Red Panda
13 2000 Khangchendzonga Sikkim East Himalayas Snow Leopard, Red Panda
14 2001 Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve Kerala, Tamil Nadu Western ghats Nilgiri Tahr, Elephants
15 1989 Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve Andaman and Nicobar Islands Islands Saltwater Crocodile
16 1988 Nokrek Meghalaya East Himalayas Red Panda
17 1997 Dibru-Saikhowa Assam East Himalayas Golden Langur
18 2011 Panna Madhya Pradesh Ken River Tiger, Chital, Chinkara, Sambharand Sloth bear
Basically the Biosphere Reserve is consisting of two zones
(i) Core zone forming the sanctum sanctorum, and
(ii) Buffer zone that concentrically surrounds the core zone
The core area is kept free of biotic disturbances and forestry operations, where collection of minor forest produce, grazing, human disturbances are not allowed within.
However, the buffer zone is managed as a ‘multiple use area’ with twin objectives of providing habitat supplement to the spillover population of wild animals from the core conservation unit, and to provide site specific eco-developmental inputs to surrounding villages for
relieving the impact on the core. No relocation is visualized in the buffer area, and forestry operations,
Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) collection and other rights and concessions to the indigenous
communities are permitted in a regulated manner to complement the initiatives in the core unit.
(Biodiversity Conservation Contd.)

Wetlands, Mangroves and Coral Reefs

Wetlands: Several wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs have been identified for conservation and
management of specific biodiversity. National Wetland Committee was constituted in 1989. The
committee in the same year identified 16 wetlands, which need conservation measures.
Recognizing the fundamental ecological function of wetlands and their economic cultural, scientific and recreational value,an international convention (Ramsar Convention) was held of Ramsar, Iron on February 2, 1971 and came into force on December 21, 1975.
Sl. No. Wetland Name State
1 Kolleru Lake Andhra Pradesh
2 Deepor Beel Assam
3 Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary Gujarat
4 Chandertal Wetland Himachal Pradesh
5 Pong Dam Lake Himachal Pradesh
6 Renuka Wetland Himachal Pradesh
7 Hokera Wetland Jammu & Kashmir
8 Surinsar-Mansar Lakes Jammu & Kashmir
9 Tsomoriri Jammu & Kashmir
10 Wular Lake Jammu & Kashmir
11 Ashtamudi Wetland Kerala
12 Sasthamkotta Lake Kerala
13 Vembanad-Kol Wetland Kerala
14 Bhoj Wetland Madhya Pradesh
15 Nandur Madhameshwar Maharashtra
16 Loktak Lake* Manipur
17 Bhitarkanika Mangroves Orissa
18 Chilika Lake Orissa
19 Harike Lake Punjab
20 Kanjli Punjab
21 Ropar Punjab
22 Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve Punjab
23 Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary Punjab
24 Beas Conservation Reserve Punjab
25 Sambhar Lake Rajasthan
26 Keoladeo National Park* Rajasthan
27 Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary Tamil Nadu
28 Rudrasagar Lake Tripura
29 Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora Stretch) Uttar Pradesh
30 Saman Bird Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh
31 Samaspur Bird Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh
32 Sandi Bird Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh
33 Sarsai Nawar Jheel Uttar Pradesh
34 Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh
35 Parvati Arga Bird Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh
36 East Calcutta Wetlands West Bengal
37 Sundarban Wetland West Bengal
Mangroves and Coral Reefs: The National Environmental Policy, 2006 recognizes that mangroves and
coral reefs are important coastal environmental resources. They provide habits for marine species,
protection from extreme weather events, and a resource base sustainable tourism.
The mangrove cover in the country occupies an area of 4,500 km2 (0.15% of the geographical area) along
the coastal states/UTs (MoEF, 2007-08) an about five percent of the World’s mangrove vegetation. To
protect and conserve this most fragile ecosystem, Mangrove Conservation Programme was launched in
1987. It has so far identified 38 mangrove areas for intensive conservation and management. West Bengal
has maximum of mangrove cover in the country followed by Gujarat and Andman & Nicobar Island.
MoEF has established a National Mangrove Genetic Resources Centre in Orissa.
The Indian coral reef area is estimated to be 2,375 km2. India has four coral reef areas in the Gulf of
Mannar, Gulf of Kutchh, Lakshadeep Island and Andaman & Nicobar Island. Their conservation and
management is being implemented since 1987. There is a National Coral Reef Research Centre at Port
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