- Most fire-prone areas are found in the northeastern and central parts of the country.
- About half of India’s forests are prone to fires. 43% are prone to occasional fires. 5% to frequent fires and 1% were at high or very high risk.
- Over 30,000 incidents were reported in 2019. – India State of Forest Report 2019
- Steps were taken
- Monitoring through satellites like NASA’s MODIS (or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer)
- National Action Plan on Forest Fires 2018,
- Forest Fire Prevention and Management (FPM) Scheme: Centrally Sponsored
Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT)
- FATF has presented its first global report – “Money Laundering and Illegal Wildlife Trade”.
- Report described wildlife trafficking as a global threat, which has links with other organized crimes.
- Wildlife trafficking is the fourth largest illicit trade, after narcotics, human trafficking, and counterfeit goods trade. ($23 billion per year)
- The most trafficked species in India are pangolins, seahorses, and tortoises.
Steps taken in India to counter IWT
- Article 51A (g), a fundamental duty.
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: prohibits trade in over 1800 species of wild animals, plants, and their derivative.
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960: penalize and jail.
- IPC, 1860: Section 428 and Section 429 – cognizable offense.
- Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)
- Environment Ministry has unveiled the new rules to regulate exotic animal trade.
- A 15- year National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-31) with a special focus on peoples’ participation.
- Demand-reduction campaigns:
- WCCB and UN Environment launched the ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ campaign in 2019.
- Launched to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade at airports across India.
New Rules to Regulate Exotic Animal Trade
- Exotic live species are both plants and animals which moved from their original habitat to a new one mainly due to human intervention.
New rules by MoEFCC
- Exotic live species will mean animals named under Appendices I, II, and III of the CITES.
- It will not include species from Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972.
- Owners and possessors of such animals and birds must register their stock with the Chief Wildlife Warden of the States.
- Currently, the DGFT, Ministry of Commerce, oversees such trade.
- Wildlife Officials will prepare an inventory of such species and have the right to inspect the facilities of such traders.
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)
- A statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country, under Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
- It assists Customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna.
- as per the provisions of Wild Life Protection Act, CITES and EXIM Policy.
- UNEP awarded it the Asia Environment Enforcement Award, 2018.
- Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System Initiative: WCCB partnering with UN University and CIESIN-Earth Institute at Columbia University.
National Innovation Foundation (NIF)- India
- NIF India is an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology, set up in 2000.
- NIF is a national initiative to strengthen grassroots technological innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge.
State of the World’s Forests Report, SOFO 2020
- Jointly released by UNEP and FAO.
- Based on the results of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA by FAO).
- Area covered by forests: Forests cover 31% of the global land area.
- More than half of the world’s forests are found in 5 countries – Brazil, Canada, China, Russia, and the US.
- Forests provide habitats for 80% amphibian species, 75% bird species, and 70% mammal species.
- About 60% of all vascular plants are found in tropical forests.
- Deforestation and forest degradation:
- Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation had decreased.
- Agricultural expansion continues to be the main driver of deforestation.
- The dense human population and intense agricultural land use areas are less intact in terms of their biodiversity. Eg. India.
- Forest-Specialist index:
- It tracks the average change in abundance of vertebrate populations around the world.
- It highlights the increased risk of species becoming vulnerable to extinction.
- It is developed by the World Wildlife Fund.
- Fell by 50% between 1970 and 2014.
Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA)
Done by FAO.
- Forest regeneration: It decreased since 1990, but the area of planted forests increased.
- Asia had the highest net gain of forest area while Africa had the largest annual rate of net forest loss.
- 18% of the global forest is in protected areas.
- South America has the highest share of forests in protected areas, at 31%.
- 10% of the forest is allocated for biodiversity conservation.
- 93% of the forest area is composed of naturally regenerating forests and 7 % is planted.
- Forest fire: Fire is a prevalent forest disturbance in the tropics.
- The decrease in Carbon Stock.
Un Decade on Ecosystem Restoration
News: UNGA proclaimed 2021–2030 as the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
- Aim: massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply, and biodiversity.
- UNEP and FAO will lead the implementation.
- Initiative 20×20 in Latin America: to restore 20 million hectares of degraded land by 2020.
- AFR100: African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative. To bring 100 million hectares of degraded land under restoration by 2030.
International decades ending in 2020
- United Nations Decade on Biodiversity
- The Decade of Action for Road Safety
- United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification.
2020: Super Year for Biodiversity
- Strategic Plan for Biodiversity with 20 global Aichi targets adopted in 2010 ends in 2020.
- End of 2011-2020 UN Decade on Biodiversity and start of other new biodiversity-related decades for 2021- 2030
- UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 (SPB 2011-2020)
- Adopted at COP10 of CBD in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.
- To inspire broad- based action in support of biodiversity.
- It has 20 targets organized under 5 strategic goals, collectively known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (ABTs).
MoEFCC initiatives for conservation of biodiversity
Launched in a virtual celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity 2020
- Biodiversity Samrakshan Internship Programme: to engage PG students to support the projects of National Biodiversity Authority.
- UNEP Campaign on Illegal Trafficking of Endangered Species: launched by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and UNEP
- WWF India Model Conference of Parties (MCoP): engages younger generation in conversations around impact of humanity’s footprint on biodiversity.
India’s efforts towards SPB 2011-2020
- India prepared its first National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) in 1999.
- revised into NBAP, 2008: to align biodiversity agenda with the National Environment Policy (NEP), 2006.
- NBAP, 2008 updated with Addendum 2014 to NBAP, 2008 to integrate with the SPB 2011-20.
- Accordingly, India developed 12 National Biodiversity Targets (NBTs) which cover all the 20 ABTs.
Committees on Western Ghats
- K Kasturirangan committee recommended 37% of WGs to be declared ESAs.
- Madhav Gadgil Commission, recommended 64 % of WG to be declared ESAs.
Central Zoo Authority
- It is a statutory body under the MoEFCC.
- It was constituted in 1992 under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- News: Recently, the Ministry has reconstituted it to include an expert from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, and a molecular biologist.
- Now, it consists Union Minister of Environment as Chairperson, 10 members and a Member Secretary.
Key Functions of CZA
- To evaluate and assess the functioning of the zoos.
- To identify endangered species of wild animals for captive breeding.
- Acquisition, exchange and loaning of animals for breeding.
Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) Management Best Practices
- India has more than 60 % of Asian elephants (IUCN status: Endangered).
- Karnataka has the highest number of wild elephants.
- Initiatives launched by MoEFCC
- Surakhsya: a National portal for collection of real time information on HEC.
UNEP Nairobi Convention
- A partnership between governments, civil society and the private sector.
- To work towards a prosperous Western Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with healthy rivers, coasts and oceans.
- India is not part of this convention.
- News: It has developed Guidelines on Mangrove Ecosystem Restoration.
To support the restoration of its degraded mangrove ecosystems and support recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Mangrove Tree as Symbol of Conservation
- Recently, Sonneratia alba, or mangrove apple was approved as Maharashtra’s state mangrove tree. Maharashtra becomes the first Indian state to declare.
- It is an evergreen mangrove species.
- It grows on newly formed mudflats.
- Plays important role in combating land erosion.
- Distribution of this species is confined to the west coast and some parts of Orissa.