Forest Fires

    • 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).

        Key Findings

        • 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.

        Regional efforts:

        • 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.