Biodiversity conservation (Biosphere reserves) Government and non Governmental organizations
Biological diversity means the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are parts. It is usually considered at three different levels - genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity.
Studies of the fossil record suggest that more than 99% of all species ever existed are now extinct. Most of them were gone before humans came on the scene. At the end of Permian period about 250 million years ago, a greater disaster wiped 2/3of all marine species and half of all plant and animal families.
Natural areas are converted to farms, housing subdivisions, shop-ping malls, marinas and industrial centres. For example, when a forest is cleared, it is not just the trees that are destroyed, but also every other plants and animals that occupy that destroyed ecosystem, either permanently or temporarily also suffers.
Biodiversity is the backbone for agriculture, aquaculture, animal husbandry, forestry and a host of other applied branches of biology. Biodiversity is fast becoming the fundamental requirement on which the new industrial develop-ments and innovations are going to be based. Biodiversity will offer in the coming years, new sources of food, medicine and other human requirements.
To save the races of endangered and endemic species the bio resources should be identified and the hotspots in each country should be given prior importance to conservation. Only then the remaining species at the verge of extinction could be saved.
Consequences of Losing Biodiversity
Many species have already become extinct and we do not know really what we are losing when we lose species. In future we might lose a keystone species, a species whose role is absolutely vital for the survival of many other species in an ecosystem. For example, the Orchid bees play a vital role in tropical forests by pollinating trees. If they disappear, the eventual fall of that ecosystem is evident. This loss may remove and constrict the natural habitats in which wild species live. Recreational, aesthetic and commercial losses will also be inevitable.
Conservation of Biodiversity
The conservation of biodiversity and the growing human population are the two great challenges facing our generation and those to follow. The following strategies are adapted to conserve biodiversity.
a. International Conservation Strategies
Biodiversity should be preserved as the common heritage of all humans. All species have a right to exist; one strategy considered as a priority is conserving hotspots around the globe. These are areas characterized by high concentrations of endemic species and experiencing unusually rapid rate of habit modification loss.There are around 25 hotspots identified from all over the world.
b. National Conservation Strategies
Several measures like legal measures, in situ and ex situ conservation efforts, documenting of indigenous knowledge and the application of science and technology have been taken by Indian government legislations.
India is one of among the 12 Mega biodiversity countries of the world. India was a party to the International Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD) in May 1994. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests is co-ordinating an effort to formulate National Biodiversity Action Plan. This is being carried out with the help of several other Government and Non-governmental organizations, and individuals.
A biosphere reserve is a unique concept which includes one or more protected areas and surrounding lands that are managed to combine both conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. 'Biosphere Reserve' is an international designation made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). It is based on the basis of nominations submitted by countries participating in the Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB). The MAB was launched in 1971 to catalyse a greater understanding and provision of knowledge and skills to support sustainable relationships between people and their environment. Biosphere Reserves act as a keystone of MAB by providing a global network of sites for cooperative research toward this end. As at the end of November 2002, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves included 495 sites in 95 countries.
� It is a land and/or coastal/marine area in which people are an integral component, and which is managed for objectives, ranging from complete protection to intensive yet sustainable production.
� It is a regional centre for monitoring, research, education and training on natural and managed ecosystems.
� It is a place where government decision makers, scientists, managers and local people cooperate in developing a model programme for managing land and water to meet human needs while conserving natural processes and biological resources.
� Finally, each biosphere reserve is a symbol of voluntary cooperation and use resources for the well being of people everywhere.
Tamilnadu has the distinction of having a marine biosphere reserve viz., the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve and also a hill Biosphere Reserve, the Nilgiri biosphere Reserve.
The total area is 5,520 sq. km. It is rich in plant diversity. It was established to conserve in situ genetic diversity of species and restore degraded ecosystem to its natural conditions.
This reserve was one of six areas chosen on the basis of its threatened status and richness of biological wealth for inclusion into an action programme to save India's protected areas for future generations.It encompasses 21 small islands along the coast. It is considered as a 'biologists paradise' with 3600 species of plants and animals.
The other biosphere reserves of India are: Nokrek (Megalaya), Namdapha - (Arunachal Pradesh), Nanda Devi - (Uttar Pradesh), Great Nicobar (Andaman & Nicobar islands), 5. Sundarbans (West Bengal):
The organizations involved in biodiversity conservation are 1.World Wildlife Fund: (WWF) 2.Resources for the Future :(RFF) 3.The Nature Conservancy: 4. World Resources Institute :(WRI), 5.IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources), 6.African Wildlife Foundation:(AWF), 7. Genetic Resources Action International : (GRAIN), 8.International Science Foundation, 9.The Biodiversity Support Program:( BSP)
1.National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources in New Delhi.
2.National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources at Kamal.
3.National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources in Allahabad.
4.The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
5. The Foundation for the Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) in Bangalore.
6.Centre for Ecological Sciences, Bangalore.
7.World Wide Fund for Nature, India.
8.Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.