India can become a Biodiversity Champion

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    In News 

    • Union Budget 2023 mentioned “Green Growth” as one of the seven priorities or Saptarishis.

    About Biodiversity

    • About:
      • Biodiversity or biological diversity is the variety and variability of life on Earth. 
        • Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels.
    • Identified species:
      • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) states that only about 1.75 million species have so far been identified, including numerous insects, while there may be some 13 million species.
    • Significance:
      • Interaction, coexistence & codependence:
        • Sum and variation of our biological wealth, known as biodiversity, is essential to the future of this planet
        • Often called the web of life, biodiversity signifies the variety of species on earth, which are all connected and sustain the balance of ecosystems, enabling humans to coexist. 
          • They interact with the environment to perform a host of functions.
      • Ecosystem services:
        • Some familiar ecosystem services rendered by diverse living forms, of which plants and animals are the most visible, include 
          • Providing humans with food, fuel, fibre, shelter, building materials, air and water purification, stabilisation of climate, pollination of plants including those used in agriculture, and moderating the effects of flood, drought, extreme temperatures and wind. 
      • A disruption of these produces severe impacts such as failed agriculture, aberrant climate patterns and cascading losses of species that accelerate the degradation of earth.

    Threats to biodiversity 

    • Biodiversity loss continues to be largely invisible despite its victims being extremely visible. 
      • Extinction:
        • Based on current trends, the UN reckons, an estimated 34,000 plant and 5,200 animal species, including one in eight of the world’s bird species, face extinction. 
        • About 30% of breeds of main farm animal species are currently at high risk of extinction. 
      • Deforestation:
        • Forests are home to much of the known terrestrial biodiversity, but about 45% of the earth’s original forests are gone, cleared mostly during the past century. 
    • Causes:
      • The core threat to biodiversity on the planet is the combination of 
        • Human population growth and 
        • The resources used by that population. 
          • The human population requires resources to survive and grow, and many of those resources are being removed unsustainably from the environment. 
      • The five main threats to biodiversity are 
        • habitat loss, 
        • pollution, 
        • overexploitation, 
        • invasive species, and 
        • climate change. 
      • Increased mobility and trade have resulted in the introduction of invasive species while the other threats are direct results of human population growth and resource use.

    Biodiversity in India & priority for “Green Growth”

    • Biodiversity:
      • India currently hosts 17% of the planet’s human population and 17% of the global area in biodiversity hotspots, placing it at the helm to guide the planet in becoming biodiversity champions.
    • India’s initiative towards “Green Growth”:
      • The emphasis on green growth is welcome news for India’s biological wealth as the country is facing serious losses of natural assets such as soils, land, water, and biodiversity.
      • The National Mission for a Green India:
        • The National Mission for a Green India aims to increase forest cover on degraded lands and protect existing forested lands. 
      • The Green Credit Programme:
        • The Green Credit Programme has the objective to “incentivize environmentally sustainable and responsive actions by companies, individuals and local bodies”. 
      • MISHTI:
        • The Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) is particularly significant because of the extraordinary importance of mangroves and coastal ecosystems in mitigating climate change. 
      • PM-PRANAM:
        • The Prime Minister Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment and Amelioration of Mother Earth (PM-PRANAM) for reducing inputs of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is critical for sustaining our agriculture.
      • Amrit Dharohar scheme:
        • The Amrit Dharohar scheme directly mentions our biological wealth and is expected to “encourage optimal use of wetlands, and enhance biodiversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities and income generation for local communities”. 
          • If implemented in letter and spirit, Amrit Dharohar, with its emphasis on sustainability by balancing competing demands, will benefit aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem services. 

    Suggestions

    • Implementation & monitoring:
      • It is critical that these programmes respond to the current state of the country’s biodiversity with evidence-based implementation
      • A science-based and inclusive monitoring programme is critical not only for the success of these efforts but also for documentation and global learning.
    • Utilising modern concepts of sustainability:
      • New missions and programmes should effectively use modern concepts of sustainability and valuation of ecosystems that consider ecological, cultural, and sociological aspects of our biological wealth. 
    • Wetland ecosystems:
      • The future of our wetland ecosystems will depend on how we are able to sustain ecological flows through the reduction in water use in key sectors such as agriculture
      • There is a need for investments in water recycling in urban areas using a combination of grey and blue-green infrastructure.
    • Focus on ecological restoration:
      • As far as the Green India Mission is concerned, the implementation should focus on ecological restoration rather than tree plantation 
      • Choosig sites where it can contribute to ecological connectivity in landscapes fragmented by linear infrastructure is also required. 
    • Mangrove initiative:
      • Site selection should also be carefully considered for the mangrove initiative with a greater emphasis on the diversity of mangrove species with retention of the integrity of coastal mud flats and salt pans themselves, as they too are important for biodiversity.

    Way ahead

    • These efforts must be inclusive of local and nomadic communities where these initiatives will be implemented. 
      • Traditional knowledge and practices of these communities should be integrated into the implementation plans. 
    • Each of these programmes has the potential to greatly improve the state of our nation’s biodiversity if their implementation is based on the latest scientific and ecological knowledge
    • As a consequence, each programme should include significant educational and research funding to critically appraise and bring awareness to India’s biological wealth.

     

    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] Union Budget 2023 mentioned “Green Growth” as one of the seven priorities or Saptarishis. What is the initiative undertaken by the government to materialise it? Suggest ways for their effective implementation.