Protected areas


Protected areas in India

  • Flaws in Haryana Government’s order demanding demolition of Khori Gaon Jhuggis
    Synopsis:

    The Haryana government’s order demanding the demolition of Khori Gaon Jhuggis is surrounded by multiple flaws. It would result in brutal violations of human rights. Therefore, the government should provide alternative land and reasonable facilities to those facing eviction.

    Background:
    • The Haryana government has ordered to break 10,000 jhuggis in Khori Gaon without providing any rehabilitation plan.
      • Khori Gaon is located on the Delhi-Haryana border and comes under the Faridabad Municipal Corporation (FMC) jurisdiction.
    • The demolition is imperative as the jhuggis are located in a forest area and the residents don’t have any ownership over them. However, the order is surrounded by multiple flaws.
    Issues associated with the Order:
    • First, it will put unprecedented stress on the residents, who are already facing immense uncertainties during the pandemic. Eviction may endanger the health, economic well-being, and lives of thousands.
      • Recently, a construction labourer (named Ganeshilal) committed suicide on hearing the demolition news.
    • Second, the order doesn’t extend to big high-rise buildings located in the same forest area. This includes The Taj Vivanta Hotel, the Sarovar Portico Hotel, the Pinnacle Business Tower, and the Radha Soami Satsang Centre.
    • Third, it undermines the right to shelter under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution as no prudent plan for rehabilitation is given.
      • In the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation case, the Supreme Court held that it would be the duty of the state to provide the right to shelter for the poor and needy.
      • In the Shantistar Builders case, the Supreme Court held that the right to life includes the right to have reasonable accommodation.
    • Fourth, it violates India’s international obligation. The country has ratified the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights which guarantees a right to housing for all irrespective of income.

    Apart from this, there exist other issues that make the situation worse for the poor dwellers.

    Other Concerning issues:
    • First, the cut-off date for rehabilitation hasn’t been updated by Haryana Urban Development Authority since 2010. The cut-off date was fixed as 2003 but since then massive migration has taken place in the state, but the date hasn’t been updated.
      • Gujarat has a cut-off date of 2010 while Rajasthan and Bihar use 2009, and Karnataka requires just a one-year stay.
    • Second, several of those residents who settled before the cut-off date don’t possess the requisite documents. Thus, 90% of the 10,000 houses of the settlement of Khori Gaon will be denied rehabilitation.
    • Third, the multiple housing schemes of the government including the current PM Awas Yojana have not been implemented properly.

    Read Also :-Higher Education in India: An Analysis 

    Way Forward:
    • The Haryana government should do rehabilitation of the jhuggi-dwellers prior to their removal. This would involve 
      • conducting a detailed survey prior to the eviction, 
      • drawing up a rehabilitation plan and 
      • ensuring that upon eviction the dwellers are immediately rehabilitated
    • The Haryana government should update its rehabilitation policy by learning from other states’ progressive housing policies.
      • For instance, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board Act provides for a survey, removal and resettlement plan.
      • Under this, removal is done only when land is required for a public purpose; else the jhuggis are upgraded and improved in-situ.
      • An alternate house is provided if the family is staying in the jhuggi since 2015.

    Source: Click Here

  • SC refuses to stay demolition of settlements in “Aravalli range” in Haryana
    What is the News?

    The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop the demolition of over 10,000 settlements encroaching on forests in the Aravalli range in Haryana’s Faridabad district.

    What was the case about?
    • Public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the demolition of the settlements.
    • The petitioners had also asked the court for more time to produce documents to claim rehabilitation.
    What did the Supreme Court say?
    • The Supreme Court has refused to stop the demolition. It said that the residents had enough time to prove their claims in accordance with a notification issued by Haryana in 2020.
    • The court also said the onus was on the State to rehabilitate the residents in compliance with a 2003 scheme. Hence, demolition should continue.
    About Aravalli Range:

    Read Also :-Are courts encroaching on the powers of the executive?

    • Aravalli Range is the oldest mountain range in India and one of the oldest mountain systems in the world.
    • The Aravalli range is spread across the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.
    • History:
      • The natural history of the Aravalli Range dates back to times when the Indian Plate was separated from the Eurasian Plate by an ocean.
      • Mining of copper and other metals in the Aravalli range dates back to at least the 5th century BCE, based on carbon dating.
    • Rivers: The three major rivers and their tributaries flow from the Aravalli. Namely Banas and Sahibi rivers which are tributaries of Yamuna, as well as Luni River which flows into the Rann of Kutch.
    • Highest Peak: Guru Shikhar Peak on Mount Abu is the highest peak in the Aravalli Range (1,722 m).

    Source: The Hindu

  • Maharashtra’s “Chandrapur” district is a hotbed for human-animal conflict
    What is the News?

    Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district has seen 22 deaths from tiger attacks in 2021. However, the Central Chanda divisional forest area has kept the numbers down to two only.

    Tigers in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra:
    • Chandrapur accounts for as many as 200 of Maharashtra’s 311 tigers. Under this, the Central Chanda area is estimated to hold 25 adult tigers. Hence, this district is a hotbed for man-animal conflict.

    How did the Central Chanda area reduce deaths from the Tiger attack? The forest officials from Central Chanda has taken a series of measures. This includes,

    • Raising awareness among locals and avoiding accidental run-ins with the tiger
    • Changing timings of entry of villagers into the forest area
    • Ensuring villagers went in groups and not alone
    • Entry Registers were set up at the entrance of the forest area to act as a deterrent for those trying to sneak into the forest.
    • An anti-snare campaign was organized to educate villagers against setting up traps to catch small herbivores which end up attracting tigers
    • To motivate the forest staffers, certificates for good work were provided to them.
    Tiger Reserves and Sanctuaries in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra:

    Tadoba Tiger Reserve:

    • Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is located in Chandrapur district in Maharashtra.
    • The reserve includes the Tadoba National Park and the Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary.
    • Vegetation: Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Teak Forests.
    • Significance: It is Maharashtra’s oldest and largest national park.It was established as the second Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra in 1994-95.
    Ghodazari Wildlife Sanctuary:
    • Ghodazari Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife reserve established in 2018 in the Chandrapur district in Maharashtra.
    • The sanctuary is considered a key region on the connecting corridor for the tiger migration between the Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve and Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary.
    • Lake: Ghodazari lake is an important destination for native and migratory birds due to its undisturbed water body and abundance of food.
    • Fauna: Tigers are the main attraction and reason behind the creation of the sanctuary. Other wildlife mammals and reptiles are also found in the sanctuary.
    • Flora: The Sanctuary consists mainly of deciduous forest. It has an extensive distribution of teak, ain, Bamboo and other trees.

    Source: Indian Express

    Read Also :-WILDLIFE (PROTECTION) ACT, 1972 

  • Issues with NTCA Circular on Shutting Down Tourism in Tiger Reserves

    Synopsis: The recent NTCA Circular on tiger reserves shut down the tourism activities in tiger reserves. But the circular needs course correction.

    Introduction:

    India’s Project Tiger program is a globally successful initiative to conserve tigers. At present, India has 51 tiger reserves now boasts of at least 3,000 tigers.

    The entire country is gearing up to relax the lockdown norms. However, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) closed the tourism activities in tiger reserves till further announcement. This deserves a wider public discussion.

    The reason behind the NTCA Circular on tiger reserves:
    • A lion at Chennai’s Vandalur Zoo has died of suspected coronavirus infection. Similarly, a tiger died at Jharkhand’s Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park after suffering from fever. This raised the suspicion regarding  Covid-19 disease transmission from human beings to captive wild animals.
    • This is why the NTCA issued a circular to chief wildlife wardens of all the tiger range states.
    Issues with the NTCA Circular on tiger reserves:
    1. Encroachment into the power of States: Forests and wildlife reserves fall under the concurrent list. The state chief wildlife wardens are the ultimate deciding authority for most issues concerning state forests. Thus, the recent NTCA Circular violates decentralized decision-making. For example, the Madhya Pradesh government has challenged the decision of NTCA.
    2. Against Vaccination Policy of locals: Tiger reserves were closed for almost two months during the second wave. Government and civil society organizations used this lockdown time to propagate the uses of vaccines, educate the nearby community towards testing, treating the Covid-19 diseases. All this done with one incentive, that is, faster reopening of forest reserves to the public to boost their economic activity. If this is reversed by the recent NTCA Circular, then the vaccination policies might delay in and around the tiger reserves.
    3. Research on the vulnerability of animals to Covid-19The transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to zoo animals and domestic pets has been documented earlier. But these studies mention that the fatality rate in the animal is a rare case.
      • Further, these studies also point out that, direct contact with infected humans is the primary cause for infection in wild animals. That is not feasible in the majority of the wildlife reserves in the world. As Jeeps and people are required to keep a distance from park animals. Not only that, In India the masks are mandatory for visiting the tiger reserves. So, the NTCA circular failed to look into the scientific aspects of disease transmission.
    4. Loss of revenue and biodiversity: The wildlife tourism economy brings in substantial revenue to the state governments. When the governments are opening up their economy, the revenues from wildlife tourism is very essential for their economic recovery.
      • The role of tribal people to live close to or inside the protected areas is very important. As they collect minor forest produce and help to conserve the forests.
      • The cost-benefit analysis shows the entire biodiversity also faces losses during the lockdown. This is due to reasons such as uncontrolled fires, poaching, etc.
    5. The arbitrary reason to exclude other protected areas: The NTCA circular only protects the 51 tiger reserves in India. In India, there is an enormous presence of wildlife outside the tiger reserves.
    Read more: “Srivilliputhur-Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is the 51st tiger reserve in India”
    Suggestions to improve the recent NTCA Circular on tiger reserves:
    1. Training the local forest officials: Instead of a blanket ban, the government can train the local officials to decide whether to allow safaris for people based on local conditions.
    2. Utilizing the opportunity: Forest departments should prepare the protected areas against future pandemics by implementing steps such as
      • Setting up Non-invasive, bio-safe protocols for Covid-19 vulnerable species under wildlife surveillance.
      • Creating Early warning systems for preventing the Covid-19 spread if any wild animal died from Covid-19.
    3. Encouraging the role of environmental research organizations in conserving species during the pandemic.
    4. Launching scientific research and prevention measures: State government should launch these measures to decide whether to open the protected area or not.

    Read Also :-Stressed assets circular to be revised soon

    The NTCA circular on tiger reserves is a centralized, non-scientific-based decision. This decision has to be replaced with decentralized, science-based decision-making to protect the bio-diversity of India. 

    Source: The Indian Express 

  • “Srivilliputhur-Mudumalai Tiger Reserve” and “Vaigai River”
    What is the news?

    The declaration of the Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu can rejuvenate Vaigai, India’s heritage river.

    Tiger Reserves in Tamil Nadu
    Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve will be the 5th tiger reserve of Tamil Nadu. The other four are:

    • Mudumalai (MTR)
    • Anamalai (ATR)
    • Sathyamangalam (STR)
    • Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR)
    About Vaigai River:
    • Vaigai is a river in Tamil Nadu. The river is also referred to as Shiva Ganga in many places.
    • It is also called Kritamaala, for it runs around the city of Madurai like a garland
    • It travels through the Pandiya Nadu region of Tamil Nadu.
    • Historic significance: The Vaigai was the river that flowed through the city of Madurai, the capital of the ancient and prosperous Pandya kingdom located in southern Tamil Nadu.
      • The river also finds a mention in Sangam literature dated to 300 before the Common Era (BCE).
      • The story of Vaigai is told in Thiruvilayadal Puranam
    • Origin: The river originates in the Varusanadu Hills, the Periyar Plateau of the Western Ghats range.
    • Empties into: The river finally empties into the Palk Strait near the Pamban Bridge in Ramanathapuram district.
    • Tributaries: Its main tributaries are Suruliyaru, Mullaiyaru, Varaaga Nadhi, Manjalaru, Kottagudi, Kridhumaal and Upparu.
      • The Vattaparai Falls are also located on this river.
    • Significance: The river fulfils the drinking water requirement of five districts of Tamil Nadu namely Theni, Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai and Dindigul.
    How did things deteriorate for the Vaigai River?
    • The deterioration of the Vaigai River happened at the end of the 18th century when the British started deforesting the Megamalai region which acts as a major catchment for Vaigai.
      • Consequently, the water flow in the river reduced gradually. As a result, a famine occurred and around 2 lakh people died in this region in 1876-77.
    • Following the famine, the British Crown proposed diverting water from the Periyar and feeding it to the Vaigai through Periyar Dam. After the dam completion, the water from Periyar was successfully brought to the Vaigai and was revived again.
    • Presently, due to the indiscriminate removal of sand from the river, whatever water flows into the Vaigai gets drained within a few days.
    • Moreover, Megamalai as a Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) also failed to withstand undue pressure. The sanctuary is devastated by the encroachers and the money-minded private estate owners which resulted in the degradation of the existing forests.

    How will the declaration of Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve help?
    It is expected that the declaration of Srivilliputhur-Megamalai as a Tiger Reserve will help protect wild animals and the natural forests, their habitats which act as watersheds.

    • This will provide protection to Megamalai, the Vaigai River’s primary catchment, in turn helping water levels to rise in the river.

    Also read: Tiger reserves of India

    About Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve:
    • Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve is the fifth Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu and the 51st tiger reserve of India.
    • It was jointly declared as a Tiger Reserve by the Centre and Tamil Nadu governments in February 2021
    • For this, the Megamalai WLS and the adjoining Srivilliputhur WLS were clubbed together.
    • Vegetation: It has a mix of tropical evergreen forests and semi-evergreen forests, dry deciduous forests and moist mixed deciduous forests, grassland.
    • Fauna:
      • Meghamalai has a large population of ungulates (hoofed mammals), spotted deer, Indian gaurs, wild boars and other carnivores.
      • The adjoining Srivilliputhur hosts grizzled giant squirrels, flying squirrels, leopards, Nilgiri tars, jungle cats, Sambars, elephants, lion-tailed macaques and many species of birds.

    Source: Down To Earth

  • Declining “forest bird species” in Western Himalayan region


    What is the News?

    According to research published in Global Ecology and Conservation, there has been a decline in forest bird species in the Western Himalayas Region.

    Note: The State of Uttarakhand has extremely cold winters and pleasant summers. It is home to the Western Himalayan temperate forests. These forests harbour a large number of endemic bird species.

    About the Research:
    • The researchers studied an area of about 1,285 square kilometres between the altitudes of 1,700 and 2,400 metres in the Western Himalayas Region.
    • Land Types: They studied six land-use types within moist temperate forest which includes:
      • Natural (protected) oak forest,
      • Degraded (lightly used) oak forest,
      • Looped (heavily used) oak forest,
      • Pine forest
      • Agricultural cultivation area and
      • Sites with buildings.
    Key Findings:
    • Firstly, there was a moderate to drastic forest bird species loss in all modified land-use types in comparison to natural oak forest.
    • Secondly, a strong decline was noticed in some habitats guilds. It was especially in the areas of visible land-use change.
      • Habitats guilds are groups of bird species that have common habitat preferences.
    • Thirdly, the species that dropped out of the modified land areas were recognised as oak forest specialists. Such as Rufous-bellied woodpecker, greater yellow nape, rufous sibia, white-throated laughing thrush and black-faced warbler.
      • Forests Specialists include species that search for food and breed only in dense protected oak forests at this altitude.
      • On the other hand, Forest Generalists include species that can adapt to modified habitats such as orchards and degraded forests.
    • Lastly, the reasons for the loss of forest bird species in the region were found to be:
      • Tourism and other anthropogenic activities
      • Rapid Invasion by non-native species. For example, Pigeon and Black Kites are not found in these High Altitudes. But with increasing concrete urban ghettos, these birds have become common in this region.
    Study on Woodpeckers:
    • Firstly, the researchers also studied the woodpeckers in the Western Himalayas region. This is to understand how they can be used as indicators of bird diversity and also to understand habitat degradation:
    • Secondly, they found that the higher number of woodpeckers at a site, results in higher richness of all other birds.
      • Reason: The cavities that woodpeckers make on trees are used by a number of other birds to nest in. This may be the primary reason how woodpeckers enhance the diversity in a region.
    • Thirdly, the two species (Rufous-bellied woodpecker and greater yellow nape) have shown great potential as indicators of forest quality. They are most likely to be found in dense canopied forests with larger and taller trees on which they preferred to forage.

    Source: The Hindu

     

  • “Banni Grasslands” -NGT Upholds Rights of Maldharis
    What is the News?

    The National Green Tribunal(NGT) has ordered all encroachments to be removed from Gujarat’s Banni grasslands within six months. Further, NGT directed a joint committee to prepare an action plan in a month.

    The court also said the Maldharis will continue to hold the right to conserve the community forests in the Banni Grasslands area. These rights were granted to them as per the provisions in Section 3 of Forest Rights Act, 2006.

    About Banni Grasslands:
    • Firstly, Banni Grassland is situated near the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. It is considered to be the largest Grassland in Asia.
    • Secondly, the grassland spreads over 2,618 kilometers and accounts for almost 45% of the pastures in Gujarat.
    • Thirdly, Formation: The word ‘Banni’ comes from the Hindi word ‘banai’, meaning made. The land here was formed from the sediments that were deposited by the Indus and other rivers over thousands of years.
    • Fourthly, Ecosystem: Two ecosystems, wetlands and grasslands are juxtaposed in Banni.
    • Fifthly, Vegetation: The vegetation in Banni is sparse and highly dependent on rainfall. It is dominated by low-growing forbs and graminoids, many of which are halophiles (salt-tolerant), as well as scattered tree cover and scrub. The grasslands were traditionally managed by a system of rotational grazing.
    • Sixthly, Flora and Fauna: The area is rich in flora and fauna with 192 species of plants, 262 species of birds, several species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
    • Seventhly, Reserve Forest: In 1955, the court notified the grassland will be a reserve forest. In, 2019, the NGT ordered to demarcate the boundaries of the Banni grassland and restricted non-forest activities.
    • Lastly, Significance: Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has identified this grassland reserve as one of the last remaining habitats of the cheetah in India. Also, a possible reintroduction site for the species.
    About Maldhari Tribe:
    • Maldharis are a tribal herdsmen community in Gujarat, India. The literal meaning of Maldhari is a keeper (dhari) of the animal stock (mal).
    • The Maldharis have lived in the Gir National Park, in the Banni Grasslands Reserve area, for the past thousand years.
    • They have co-existed with the lions which the Gir National Park was created to preserve, for these thousand years.
    • Maldhari community breeds Banni Buffaloes, a species endemic to the region. The buffaloes are adaptive to Kutch’s hot weather condition.

    Source: Down To Earth

     

  • Odisha Government Proposes “Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve”
    What is the news

    The Odisha government submits a proposal to establish the Mahendragiri biosphere reserve. It is the 2nd biosphere reserve in the state and situated in the southern part of the state at Mahendragiri hill ecosystem.

    Note: Similipal Biosphere Reserve was Odisha’s first such reserve and was notified in 1996.

    About Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve
    • Mahendragiri is a hill mountain located in Odisha. The area of the proposed Biosphere Reserve is spread over Gajapati and Ganjam districts in the Eastern Ghats.
    • Transitional Zone: The hill ecosystem acts as a transitional zone between the flora and fauna of southern India and the Himalayas. Consequently, the region is an ecological estuary of genetic diversity
    • Mythological Significance: Centre has included Mahendragiri in the Ramayana Circuit. The hilltop has ancient temples of Kunti, Yudhistir, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakul and Sahadev of the Mahabharata.
    • Besides, the hill has water streams and the origin of the Mahendratanaya River.
    • Vegetation: There are four types of vegetation of the Mahendragiri hill complex. They are:
        1. Sal forests,
        2. mixed forests,
        3. grassland,
        4. scrubs.
    • Tribe: Some of the major tribes that inhabit Mahendragiri are the Soura tribe, a particularly vulnerable tribal group, also the Kandha tribe.
    • Flora: Mahendragiri accounts for 40% of the reported flora of Odisha. 29-nine of the 41 species of threatened medicinal plants of Odisha are found in the proposed biosphere reserve area.
    • Fauna: The Indian elephant is the most important animal of Mahendragiri. The other wild animals include the tiger, leopard, hyena, wild bear, deer, antelope, peacock, snake.
    • Besides, it is home to 165 species of birds, 23 species of snakes, 15 species of amphibians, three species of turtles, and 19 lizards.

    Click Here to Read about Biosphere Reserves

    Source: Down To Earth

     

  • “Pong Dam wildlife sanctuary” – 27 Migratory Birds Found Dead
    What is the news?

    As many as 27 migratory birds died on account of avian influenza in Himachal Pradesh’s Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary.

    Click Here to Read about Avian Influenza

    About Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary
    • Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary or Pong Dam Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake is in Himachal Pradesh.
    • Created in: The dam was created in 1975 and was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1983.
    • Ramsar Site: In 1994, Government of India declared Pong Dam Lake as a “Wetland of National Importance”. In 2002, it became a Ramsar Site in November 2002 by government notification.
    • Vegetation: The sanctuary area is covered with tropical and subtropical forests. Thus, it shelters a great number of Indian Wildlife animals.
    • Rivers: The lake is fed by the Beas River. Its numerous perennial tributaries are Gaj, Neogal, Binwa, Uhl, Bangana, and Baner.
    • Fauna: The sanctuary is a host to around 220 species of birds belonging to 54 families. Migratory birds from all over Hindukush Himalayas and also as far as Siberia come here during winter.

    Source: The Hindu

  • “Tiger Reserves” in India
    What is the News?

    Six tigers are unaccounted for in the Ranthambore tiger reserves in Rajasthan, since March 2020. But State officials are not willing to label them as missing. NTCA has constituted a committee in this regard.

    About Tiger Reserves:
    • Tiger Reserves are areas of protection for tigers. They aim to conserve the habitat to ensure a viable population of the tigers along with their prey base in their habitat.
    • Declared by: The National Tiger Conservation Authority via Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act,2006 under Project Tiger, declares tiger reserves .
      • Project Tiger: It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Government of India launched in 1973. It aims for in-situ conservation of wild tigers in designated tiger reserves.
    • Proposal for tiger reserves: To declare an area as Tiger Reserve, the state governments can forward their proposals to NTCA. The Central Government via NTCA may also advise the state governments to forward a proposal for creation of Tiger Reserves.
    • Tigers Reserves in India: There are 51 tigers reserves in India. The Project Tiger governs these reserves and the National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA) administers them.
      • Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka is the first tiger reserve in India
      • Srivilliputhur- Megamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu is the 51st Tiger Reserve in India.
    • Largest Tiger Reserve: Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve located in Andhra Pradesh is the largest tiger reserve in India.
    • Tiger Reserve with the Highest Tiger counts: Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand has the highest number of tigers. And then comes the Nagarhole tiger reserve(Karnataka) and the Bandipur Tiger Reserve(Karnataka).

    About National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA):

    • NTCA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. It was constituted under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
    • It got established in 2005 following the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force.
    • Objectives of National Tiger Conservation Authority:
      • Firstly, providing statutory authority to Project Tiger so that compliance with its directives becomes legal.
      • Secondly, fostering accountability of Center-State in the management of Tiger Reserves by providing a basis for MoU with States within our federal structure.
      • Thirdly, providing for oversight by Parliament.
      • Lastly, addressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tigers Reserves.

    Source: The Hindu

  • “Simlipal Biosphere reserve” Catches Forest Fire

    What is the News?

    A massive forest fire broke out in the Simlipal Biosphere Reserve in Odisha. The core area of the biosphere was untouched by the fire. However, the fire is threatening to damage its rich biodiversity.

    About Similipal Biosphere Reserve:

    1. Location: Simlipal is a national park and a tiger reserve located in the Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Odisha. It is the 7th largest national park in India. It lies in the eastern end of the Eastern Ghat.
    2. Part of: The Park is part of the Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve. It includes three Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary, and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary.
    3. Origin of Name: The park derives its name from ‘Simul’ which are red silk cotton trees growing in the area.
    4. Flora: The park has a high biodiversity with about 94 species of orchids and 3,000 species of plants. Among them, Sal is a dominant tree species in the park.
    5. Fauna: The park is home to the Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, gaur, and chausingha. It is also home to some beautiful waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani Falls.
    6. UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: The park was declared a biosphere reserve by the Government of India in 1994. It is a part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2009.
    7. Tribes: The two tribes namely Erenga Kharias and the Mankirdias inhabit the reserve’s forests and practice traditional agricultural activities. Other dominant tribes include the Ho, Gonda, and Munda among others.

    Reasons for Forest Fires in the Simlipal National Park: The forest fires seemed to be both due to natural causes and human-made causes:

    • Natural causes such as lighting or even soaring temperatures can sometimes result in these fires. Moreover, the forests of Similipal are of dry deciduous type and the fallen leaves become highly inflammable if there is no precipitation.
    • Man Made Causes:
      • Poaching and hunting: the poachers set a small patch of forest on fire to divert the wild animals. It can lead to forest fires.
      • Forest areas are set on fire by the villagers to clear the dry leaves on the ground for easy collection of mahua flowers. These flowers are used to prepare a drink that is addictive in nature.

    Source: Indian Express

  • World Wildlife Day 2021

    What is the News?

    World Wildlife Day 2021 is being celebrated on 3rd March 2021.

    About World Wildlife Day:

    • World Wildlife Day is celebrated every year since 2013.
    • The 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 proclaimed this day.
    • The date chosen coincides with the day of the signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973.
    • Aim: To raise awareness about animals going extinct by celebrating the world’s flora and fauna
    • Secretariat: CITES Secretariat has been designated as the facilitator for the global observance of this day for wildlife.
    • Theme: “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet”.

    India’s Wildlife Biodiversity: India has thriving wildlife & biodiversity. It has 70% of the Global Tiger population, 70 % of Asiatic Lions, and 60% of the Leopard population. Some important wildlife places are:

    • Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand is known for tigers, spotted deer, elephants, golden jackal and sambar deer.
    • Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is famous for tigers, leopards, hyenas, jackals, jungle cats, Indian foxes. It is also home to a wide range of birds like pelicans, ibis, flamingos, egrets, and parakeets.
    • Gir National Park in Gujarat is known for Asiatic lions. Other than lions, Indian leopards, sloth bears, jungle cats, striped hyenas, snakes, blackbucks, crocodiles, monitor lizards, also found here.
    • Bannerghatta Biological Park in Karnataka is known for Butterfly Park tigers, leopards, elephants, spotted deer, butterflies, snakes and more.
    • Kaziranga National Park in Assam is famous for its rhino and tiger population.
    • Hemis National Park in Ladakh is globally famous for its snow leopards. It is believed to have the highest density of snow leopards in any protected area in the world.

    Source: Indian Express

    World Wildlife Day

  • “Himalayan serow” spotted in the Manas Tiger Reserve, Assam

    What is the News?

    Himalayan Serow has been spotted in the Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam.

     About Himalayan Serow:

    • Himalayan serow is a subspecies of the mainland serow. It resembles a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig.
    • Species: There are several species of serows in the world. All of them are found in Asia. However, the Himalayan serow is restricted to the Himalayan region.
    • Habitat: They are found at high altitudes between 2,000 metres and 4,000 metres. They are known to be found in the eastern, central and western Himalayas but not in the Trans Himalayan region.
    • Diet: Himalayan serows are herbivores animals.
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • The Wildlife Protection Act,1972: Schedule I.

    Significance of the sighting of Himalayan Serow:

    • Himalayan serow has been spotted for the first time in the Manas tiger reserve or anywhere else in Assam. However, this does not mean the animal never visited Assam forests before.
      • The sightings of these rare animals and birds are due to better access to remote parts of the protected area.
      • The other rare animals and birds sighted recently in Manas National Park were,

    Manas National Park:

    • Manas national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve.
    • Location: It is located in the Himalayan foothills in Assam. It is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
    • Origin of Name: The name of the park is originated from the Manas River.
    • Significance: The park is known for its rare and endangered endemic wildlife such as the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog. It is also famous for its population of wild water buffalo.
    • Human History: Pagrang is the only forest village located in the core of the Manas national park. Apart from this village 56 more villages surround the park. Many more fringe villages are directly or indirectly dependent on the park.
    • River: The Manas river flows through the west of the park. Manas is a major tributary of Brahmaputra river. The river is named after the serpent goddess Manasa

    Source: The Hindu

    Environment laws and initiatives in India

  • Elephants died of Haemorrhagic Septicaemia(HS) in Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary

    What is the News?

    6 elephants died of Haemorrhagic Septicaemia(HS) in Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary is located in Odisha’s Kalahandi district.

    Haemorrhagic septicaemia(HS)

    • It is a contagious bacterial disease caused by the bacteria Pasteurella multocida.
    • In this disease, the respiratory tract and lungs of the animals are affected, leading to severe pneumonia.
    • Vulnerable Group: It commonly affects cattle and water buffaloes. The Mortality rate is high in infected animals. There are no reported cases of human infection.
    • Transmission: The disease is spread through direct contact with infected animals, through ingestion or inhalation of the bacteria among others.
    • Symptoms: Primary symptoms include swishing tails, undigested food in faeces, and reduced milk yield.
    • Distribution: The disease occurs mostly in South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and most of Africa. In Asia, this disease outbreak is concentrated mostly in areas with climatic conditions typical of monsoon (high humidity and high temperatures).
    • Treatment: Treatment is usually effective in the early stage only when fever sets in.

    Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary

    • It is a wildlife sanctuary located in the Kalahandi district in Odisha. The sanctuary is famous for the lush green dry deciduous forest.
    • Fauna: The sanctuary is home to a plethora of wildlife animals such as leopard, gaur, sambar, nilgai, barking deer, mouse deer, soft claws ottawa and a wide variety of birds.
    • Flora: The sanctuary consists of flora like Sal, Bija, Asan, Harida, Amala, Bahada, and Bamboo and varieties of medicinal plants.
    • Waterfalls: There are several small and big waterfalls inside the sanctuary like Phurlijharan, Ghusrigudi, Dumnijhola, Kamalajharan, Koyirupa, Kuang, and Raja Rani.

    Source: Indian Express

    Issue of cruelty against wild animals in India

     

  • “Mandarin Duck” spotted in Assam’s Maguri Beel after 118 years

    What is the News?

    Mandarin ducks appeared after 118 years in the Maguri-Motapung beel in Assam’s Tinsukia district.

    Mandarin Duck:

    • It is provided with a tag of the most beautiful duck in the world. Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist Carl Linnaeus first spotted and identified this bird in 1758.

    Key Characteristics of Mandarin Duck:

    • Features: Male mandarins are colorful compared to females. Males have elaborate plumage (feathers) with orange plumes on their cheeks, orange ‘sails’ on their back, and pale orange sides. On the other hand, females are dull in comparison, with grey heads, brown backs, and white eyestripe.
    • Feed on: These birds feed on seeds, acorns, small fruit, insects, snails, and small fish.
    • Habitat: Its habitats include temperate forests near wetlands including rivers, streams, bogs, marshes, swamps, and freshwater lakes.
    • Distribution: It is native to East Asia but has established populations in Western Europe and America too. It breeds in Russia, Korea, Japan, and the northeastern parts of China.
    • India: The duck does not visit India regularly. It is because India is not on its usual migratory route. It was recorded in 1902 in the Dibru river in the Rongagora area in Tinsukia (Assam). More recently, it was sighted in Manipur’s Loktak Lake in 2013 and in Savoini Beel in Manas National Park in Assam in 2014.
    • IUCN Red List: Least Concern.

    Maguri Motapung Beel

    • It is a wetland and lake located near to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Assam. It serves as a natural home to wildlife. Furthermore, it is also a source of livelihood for the local communities.
    • Important Bird Area: It was declared as an Important Bird Area by the Bombay Natural History Society.
    • Significance: The wetland is very important. It is home to at least 304 bird species, including a number of endemic ones like Black-breasted parrotbill and Marsh babbler.
    • Concerns: In 2020, a blowout and fire at an Oil India Limited-owned gas well affected this wetland adversely. The resulting oil spill killed a number of fish, snakes as well as an endangered Gangetic dolphin.

    Source: The Hindu

  • 175% rise in waterfowls in “Kaziranga National Park”

    What is the News?

    The third annual census of birds in the Kaziranga National Park has been released. The main objective of the census was to record and estimate waterfowls and winter migratory birds. It also monitors and assesses the health of wetlands in the Park.

    Water fowls and Winter Migratory Birds:

    • The Park has recorded a 175% increase in the number of waterfowl and winter migratory birds.
      • Waterfowl are birds that are strong swimmers with waterproof feathers and webbed feet. They use their webbed feet as flippers to push through the water. Ducks, geese, and swans are waterfowl.
    • Reason: Better conservation of water bodies, improved habitat management, and lesser human interference within the core area of the park and sensitive areas are the reasons for an increase in their numbers.
    • The highest number of these bird species was from the family Anatidae comprising ducks and geese.
    • The maximum increase was witnessed in Laokhowa-Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary
    • The top three species counted by the number are Eurasian Coot, Bar Headed Geese, and Common Teal.

    Kaziranga National Park:

    • It is located in the State of Assam. It is the single largest undisturbed and representative area in the Brahmaputra Valley floodplain.
    • The park was declared as a National Park in 1974 and was also declared as a Tiger Reserve in 2006. In 1985, the park was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
    • It is also recognized as an Important Bird Area by Bird Life International for the conservation of avifaunal species.
    • It also houses the world’s largest population of Great One-horned Rhinoceros (IUCN Status- Vulnerable).
    • Area Under Wetland: The area under wetlands in Kaziranga has reduced from 8.5% of the total area to 6.7% over a period of 30 years till 1977.
      • However, efforts to check siltation, erosion, and fragmentation of the beels (wetlands) and removal of invasive species have breathed fresh life into the park’s ecosystem.

    Source: The Hindu

  • “Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary”- Migratory water birds arrived

    What is the News?
    Over a lakh migratory water birds arrived at the Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh in Winter 2020-21.

    Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary:

    • Pong Dam Sanctuary is also known as Pong Dam Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake. It is located in Himachal Pradesh.
    • The dam was created in 1975 and was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1983. The lake was declared as a Ramsar Site in 2002.
    • Vegetation: The sanctuary area is covered with tropical and subtropical forests. It shelters a great number of Indian Wildlife animals.
    • Rivers: The lake is fed by the Beas River. Its numerous perennial tributaries are Gaj, Neogal, Binwa, Uhl, Bangana, and Baner.
    • Fauna: The sanctuary is a host to around 220 species of birds belonging to 54 families. Migratory birds from all over Hindukush Himalayas and also as far as Siberia come here during winter.
      • The flagship species of the lake are Bar Headed Geese. Other species having a high population at the sanctuary include Eurasian Coot, Northern Pintail, Common Teal, Great Cormorant, GreyLag Goose, etc.
    • Concerns: The total population of birds as well as the number of species counted this year is marginally less as compared to last year, probably due to the impact of the avian influenza

    Source: Indian Express

  • Prime Minister lauds efforts of Kerala man for “Vembanad lake” clean-up

    What is the News?
    During Mann ki Baat address, Prime Minister has praised the efforts of a Kerala man. He engages in cleaning the Vembanad Lake despite his physical challenges.

    Facts:

    • Vembanad Lake: It is the longest lake in India and the largest lake in the state of Kerala. The lake is situated at sea level and is separated from the Laccadive Sea by a narrow barrier island.
    • Other Names: The lake is also known as Punnamada Lake (in Kuttanad) and Kochi Lake (in Kochi).
    • Significance: Vallam Kali (a.k.a Nehru Trophy Boat Race) is a Snake Boat Race held every year in the month of August in Vembanad Lake.
    • Ramsar Site: In 2002, the lake was included in the list of wetlands of international importance, as defined by the Ramsar Convention. It is the second-largest Ramsar site in India, only after the Sunderbans in West Bengal.
    • Bird Sanctuary: The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located on the east coast of the lake.
    • Unique Characteristic: The unique characteristic of the lake is the Thanneermukkom saltwater barrier. It was constructed as a part of the Kuttanad Development Scheme to prevent tidal action and intrusion of saltwater into the Kuttanad low-lands.

    Source: The Hindu

     

  • India gets its first “Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM)”

    What is the news?

    The Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has announced the establishment of a Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management(CWCM) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. This announcement came on the occasion of World Wetland Day.

    About Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management(CWCM):

    1. The Centre has been established as a part of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management(NCSCM). This centre comes under the Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change.
    2. Aim: To address specific research needs and knowledge gaps in the conservation and management of wetlands.
    3. Key Functions of the centre:
      1. It will help in building partnerships and networks with relevant national and international agencies.
      2. Center will serve as a knowledge hub. It enables exchange between State/ UT Wetland Authorities, wetland users, managers, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners.
      3. Moreover, it will assist the national and State/ UT Governments in the design and implementation of policy and regulatory frameworks for conservation.

    Additional Facts:

    1. World Wetlands Day: It is celebrated every year on 2 February. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971.
    2. Aim: To raise global awareness about the vital role played by wetlands for people and our planet.
    3. The theme for 2021: ‘Wetlands and Water’. This year’s theme is most significant as the UN Decades of Ocean Science and Ecosystem Restoration begins in 2021.
    4. Wetlands in India: Nearly 4.6% of India’s land is designated as wetlands. They cover an area of 15.26 million hectares.
    5. Moreover, India has 42 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1.08 million hectares.

    Source: PIB

  • Nilgiri Elephant Corridor and Biosphere Reserve

    What is the News?
    The Supreme Court has appointed a new member to the Technical Committee on Nilgiri Elephant Corridor.

    The Supreme court last year constituted a committee to hear complaints by landowners against the action taken by the Nilgris Collector. The Nilgiris collector’s action includes the sealing of landowners’ buildings in the Nilgiris Elephant Corridor.

    Facts:

    Nilgiris Elephant Corridor:

    • Elephant corridors allow elephants to continue their nomadic mode of survival. Despite the shrinking forest cover, the corridors facilitate the travelling of elephants between distinct forest habitats.
    • Nilgiris elephant corridor is situated in the ecologically fragile Sigur plateau. The plateau connects the Western and the Eastern Ghats. Apart from that, the plateau also sustains elephant populations and their genetic diversity.
    • It has the Nilgiri Hills on its southwestern side and the Moyar River Valley on its north-eastern side. The elephants cross the plateau in search of food and water.

    Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve:

    • The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected forest area in India. The Biosphere Reserve spread across three states. Namely, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala.
    • The Nilgiri Sub-Cluster is a part of the Western Ghats which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.
    • The reserve includes the Aralam, Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur, and Silent Valley national parks. Similarly, the reserve also includes the Wayanad, Karimpuzha, and Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuaries.
    • It has the largest population of two endangered species, the lion-tailed macaque and Nilgiri tahr. The reserve hosts more than 400 tigers. Most importantly, the reserve is having more tigers than any other place on earth.
    • About 80% of flowering plants reported from the Western Ghats occur in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.

    Source: The Hindu

  • Kalrav festival at Nagi- Nakti bird sanctuaries in Bihar 

    Why in News?  

    Kalrav, Bihar’s 1st statelevel festival started at the Nagi-Nakti bird sanctuaries in the Jamui district, Bihar. 

    About the festival: 

    • About the Festival: The festival is hosted by the department of forest, environment and climate change. 
    • Aim: The event is intended to create awareness about the conservation of birds and their habitat, the wetlands. 
    • Importance of Birds:  
      • Those who can understand a bird’s behavior can understand that it sends a signal of any impending natural calamity. 
      • Birds also help in the pollination of plant species. 
    • Hence, as a part of the bird conservation plan, the forest department has developed a bird ringing station at Bhagalpur 

     Nagi- Nakti Bird Sanctuaries: 

    • Nagi Dam and Nakti Dam are although two different sanctuariess but  they can be taken as one bird area due to their closeness. 
    • These sanctuaries are a home to wide variety of indigenous species and migratory birds that turn up during the winters from places like Eurasia, Central Asia, the Arctic Circle, Russia and Northern China. 
    • Birdlife International has declared it as an important bird area due to a rare phenomenon. I.e. appearance of Around 1,600 bar-headed geese which is about 3% of the global population of this variety, at this sanctuary. 
    • The sanctuary is unique for its rock formation, “tor” in Jamui area. In India, this rock formation is available only in Hampi in Karnataka. 

    Article Source

  • Winter migratory water birds make a beeline to Punjab’s Harike wetland

    News: Winter migratory waterbirds using the central Asian flyway have started making a beeline to Punjab’s Harike wetland.

    Facts:

    • Harike Wetland: It is one of the largest man-made wetlands of northern India which shares its area with the Tarntaran, Ferozpur and Kapurthala districts of Punjab.
    • It came into existence in 1952 after the construction of a barrage near the confluence of rivers Sutlej and Beas. The grand Indira Gandhi Canal in Rajasthan is fed from this wetland.
    • The wetland was accorded the wetland status in 1990 by the Ramsar Convention.
    • Migratory Birds:
      • The wetland is a significant abode for the migratory birds as every winter, the birds make their way to India through the central Asian flyway which covers a large continental area of Europe-Asia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans.
      • Birds such as the Eurasian coot, Greylag goose, Bar-headed goose, Gadwall and the northern shoveler are the prominent ones that could be sighted at Harike Wetland.
    • Fauna: The wetland also harbors endangered aquatic mammalian as well as reptilian fauna like the Indus river dolphin, smooth-coated otter and seven species of rare freshwater turtles.
    • Concerns: Over the years, the number of certain species visiting the wetland has been falling. The key reasons attributed to the drop are increased human interference in their breeding regions, oil exploration, use of pesticides in farms, climate change and rising air and water pollution.

    Article source

    UPSC Syllabus 2021

     

     

  • More wildlife in Aravallis at Faridabad, Gurgaon than at Asola, need better protection: Study

    News: According to a Study, the wildlife corridor of the Aravallis in Gurgaon and Faridabad harbours a richer variety of mammals than the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary despite not having as much protection.

    Facts:

    • About the Study: The study was conducted under the Worldwide Fund for Nature’s small grants programme and was supported by the non-profit Centre for Ecology Development and Research (CEDAR).
      • Small Grants Programme: It is an initiative of WWF. It aims to encourage young Indians to respond innovatively and independently to the conservation issues which affect the country by offering eligible individuals a one-time grant of upto INR 400,000 over a maximum period of 2 years for undertaking conservation research/ action research.

    Key Takeaways from the study:

    • Aravallis: Aravallis in both Faridabad and Gurugram has a larger variety of mammals compared to the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary which is classified as a protected area and enjoys legal protection under the Wild Life (Protection) Act.
      • Reason: It can be attributed to the attitude of tolerance to wildlife amongst the local population, general low density of people and “subsistence agricultural practices prevalent in the two districts.
    • Significance: The hotspot of wildlife in Aravallis is between Damdama and Mangar Bani and wildlife moves from there to Asola through the Aravalli in Faridabad. This indicates that Asola will survive as long as the Aravalli region of Gurgaon and Faridabad survives.
    • Mammals Species: The study has revealed that around 15 species of mammals were recorded in the 200 sq km area that was covered including Gurgaon Aravallis, Mangar Bani, Faridabad Aravallis and Asola Wildlife Sanctuary.
      • Among these mammals, two species—the leopard and the honey badger- are classified as endangered under Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act.
    • Concerns: Increasing construction is a major threat to the wildlife corridor. Hence, it is imperative to control land-use change and protect the wildlife corridor and habitat from further fragmentation, construction and deforestation.
    • Suggestions: Construction of expressways and highways also needs to take into account wildlife in the city such as by constructing underpasses or flyovers that allow at least a portion of the wildlife to cross from one part to the other and prevent complete fragmentation of wildlife populations between Aravallis of Delhi and Haryana.

    Additional Facts:

    leopard and the honey badger

    Source: Wikipedia

    • Aravallis Range: It is a mountain range in Northwestern India running approximately 692 km starting near Delhi, passing through southern Haryana and Rajasthan and ending in Gujarat. The highest peak is Guru Shikhar at 1,722 metres.

    Article Source

     

  • Government released Management Effectiveness Evaluation Report for protected areas

    News: Union Environment Minister has released Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.

    Facts:

    What is Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE)?

    • Management Effectiveness Evaluation(MEE) tool is increasingly being used by governments and international bodies to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the protected area management systems.
    • It is defined as the assessment of how well National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are being managed—primarily, whether they are protecting their values and achieving the goals and objectives agreed upon.
    • Indicators: There are 30 ”Headline Indicators” developed under six elements of MEE framework suitable in Indian context for evaluation. The ratings are assigned in four categories, as Poor – upto 40%; Fair – 41 to 59%; Good – 60 to 74%; Very Good – 75% and above.
    • What was the need of this tool? At present, India has a network of 903 protected areas covering about five per cent of the total geographic area of the country. India also has 70% of the global tiger population, 70% of Asiatic lions and more than 60% of leopards global population. Hence, in order to assess the efficacy of protected areas, evaluation of management effectiveness is required.
    • Results:
      • The results of the present assessment are encouraging with an overall mean MEE score of 62.01% which is higher than the global mean of 56%.
      • Jaldapara national park (West Bengal), Raiganj wildlife sanctuary (West Bengal), Sainj Wildlife Sanctuary (Himachal Pradesh), Tirthan wildlife sanctuary(Himachal Pradesh) and Great Himalayan national park (Himachal Pradesh) have been declared as top five national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India.
      • Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh was the worst performer in the survey.

    Other Initiatives launched:

    • MEE of Marine Protected Areas: A new framework for MEE of Marine Protected Areas has been also jointly prepared by Wildlife Institute of India(WII) and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
    • Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Indian Zoos(MEE-ZOO): It is a framework which proposes guidelines, criteria and indicators for evaluation of zoos of the country through Management Effectiveness Evaluation Process(MEE-ZOO) in a manner which is discrete, holistic and independent.
      • The assessment criteria and indicators look beyond the traditional concepts including issues of animal welfare, husbandry and sustainability of resources and finance.

    Article Source

    To read about Protected Areas(PA) Networks: https://blog.forumias.com/all-about-protected-area-networks/

     

  • Equip forest officers adequately to fight poachers – SC

    News: The Supreme Court has expressed serious concern about the absence of security for forest officials in the country against poachers.

    Facts:

    • Background: A petition was filed in the apex court challenging the prosecution launched against few forest officers in Rajasthan. The petitioner submitted that the FIRs against the forest officials were a ‘counter-action’ for their action taken against poachers.

    Key Observations made by the Supreme Court:

    • The central government should provide weapons and bulletproof vests and vehicles to the officials as India accounted for 30% of fatalities among forest rangers in the world(highest in the world).
    • Centre should consider involving premier organisations such as the CBI to help the forest staff. There should even be a separate wing or wildlife division in the Enforcement Directorate with clean officials to track and investigate crimes of the poachers and the proceeds of their crime.
    • The court noted that states such as Assam and Maharashtra have deployed armed guards to protect forest officers and no one dares come near them.

    Article Source

     

  • Community fishing banned at Deepor Beel

    News: Kamrup (Metropolitan) district administration has prohibited community fishing at Deepor Beel, a wetland on the south-western edge of Guwahati and Assam’s only Ramsar site.

    Facts:

    Read  more:-Daily current affairs

    • Deepor Beel: It is located to the south-west of Guwahati city, in Kamrup district of Assam.It is a permanent freshwater lake and drains into the Brahmaputra river.
    • Climate: The climate is humid and tropical monsoon, with a prolonged monsoon season from May to September and a relatively cool, winter.
    • Ramsar Site: Deepor Beel was designated a Ramsar site in 2002 for sustaining a range of aquatic life forms besides 219 species of birds.
    • Significance: Considered as one of the largest beels in the Brahmaputra valley of Lower Assam, it is categorized as a representative of the wetland type under the Burma monsoon forest biogeographic region.
    • IBA: It is also an important bird sanctuary(IBA) habituating many migrant species.
    • Concerns: Deepor Beel is in a bad state as it is losing connectivity with small rivers like Kalmoni, Khonjin, and Basistha due to encroachment upon the natural channels through Guwahati, municipal waste dump at Boragaon almost on the edge of the wetland, and over-exploitation of the wetland.

    Article source

  • International Blue Flag hoisted at 8 beaches across the Country

    Source: PIB

    News: Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change has virtually hoisted the international blue flags in 8 beaches across the country.

    Facts:

    • During October 2020; Eight beaches of India spread across five states and two union territories have been awarded the Blue Flag Certification. These eight beaches are:
      • Shivrajpur (Dwarka-Gujarat)
      • Ghoghla (Diu)
      • Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka)
      • Kappad (Kerala)
      • Rushikonda (AP)
      • Golden (Puri-Odisha) and
      • Radhanagar (A&N Islands).
    • India has also set up an ambitious target of getting the Blue Certification tag for 100 more beaches in the next 3 years.

    Blue flag beaches

    Additional Facts:

    • Blue flag certification: It is an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.
      • The certification programme is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).
      • Criteria: The certification is based on 33 stringent criteria in four major heads (i) Environmental Education and Information (ii) Bathing Water Quality, (iii) Environment Management and Conservation and (iv) Safety and Services in the beaches.
      • Headquarters: Copenhagen, Denmark.
      • Receiving Blue Flag Certification is an indication of high environmental and quality standards and certified beaches are considered the world’s cleanest beaches. Certification will promote tourism to the listed beaches in India.
      • India is now the first country in the “Asia-Pacific” region which has now in the league of 50 “BLUE FLAG” countries that too in just about 2 years’ time.

    India’s initiative to get Blue Flags: BEAMS (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services) ZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management) project in order to undertake the sustainable development of coastal regions and to achieve the goal of having Blue Flags for 100 beaches in India.

    • Objectives: The objectives of BEAMS program is to:
      • Abate pollution in coastal waters,
      • Promote sustainable development of beach facilities,
      • Protect & conserve coastal ecosystems & natural resources,
      • Strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness,
      • Hygiene & safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment & regulations.
  • Ladakh’s Tso Kar Wetland Complex now a Wetland of International Importance

    Source: PIB

    News: India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site which is a second one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh. 

    Facts: 

    • Tso Kar Basin: It is a high-altitude wetland complex consisting of two principal waterbodies Startsapuk Tso( a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south and Tso Kar (a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north) situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh, India.  
    • Significance: It is also called Tso Kar meaning white lake because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins due to the evaporation of highly saline water. 
    • Important Bird Area: The Tso Kar Basin is an A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) as per Bird Life International and a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway. 
    • Important Breeding Ground: The site is one of the most important breeding areas of the Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in India. It is also the major breeding area for Great Crested Grebe Bar-headed Geese, Ruddy Shelduck, Brown-headed Gull, Lesser Sand-Plover and many other species. 

    Additional Facts: 

    • Wetlands: It provides a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation.  
    • They are a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater. 
    • Ramsar Convention on Wetland (1971): It is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. 
    • Aim: To develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits. 
    • Montreux Record: It is a register of wetland sites on the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance. It shows such sites where there has been or likely to be adverse ecological changes due to anthropogenic activities. Indian sites in the Montreux Record are Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan), Loktak Lake (Manipur). 

    For Further Read: https://blog.forumias.com/wetlands/ 

  • What are Eco-ducts or Eco-bridges?

    Eco-ducts or Eco-bridges?

    Source: Click Here

    News: Ramnagar Forest Division in Nainital district,Uttarakhand has recently built its first eco-bridge for reptiles and smaller mammals.

    Facts:

    ● Eco-ducts or Eco-bridges

    • Eco-ducts or Eco-bridges: These are areas of wildlife habitat that aim to enhance wildlife connectivity that can be disrupted because of highways or logging.Usually these bridges are overlaid with planting from the area to give it a contiguous look with the landscape.
    • Types of Eco-bridges: It includes canopy bridges (usually for monkeys, squirrels and other arboreal species); concrete underpasses or overpass tunnels or viaducts (usually for larger animals); and amphibian tunnels or culverts.
    • Significance: Eco-bridges play a very important role in maintaining connections between animal and plant populations that would otherwise be isolated and therefore at greater risk of local extinction.
  • Atlantic Ocean’s largest protected marine reserve?

    News: Tristan da Cunha has been declared as the largest Marine Protection Zone of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Facts:

    • Tristan da Cunha: It is an isolated UK Overseas Territory located 6,000 miles from London in the South Atlantic Ocean.
    • The island is inhabited by less than 300 humans and the water around the islands is considered to be the richest in the world.It is also home to the World Heritage Site of Gough and Inaccessible Islands,which is one of the most important seabird islands in the world.
  • What are deemed forests?

    News: Karnataka Forest Minister has announced that the state government would soon declassify 6.64 lakh hectares of the 9.94 lakh hectares of deemed forests in the state (nearly 67%) and hand it over to Revenue authorities.

    Facts:

    • Deemed Forest: The concept of deemed forests has not been clearly defined in any law including the Forest Conservation Act of 1980.
    • However, the Supreme Court in the case of T N Godavarman Thirumulpad(1996) had broadened the definition of the forest to include not just land classified as forest under forest or revenue departments but also those that are forests according to the definition of a forest.
    • It had also asked states to form committees to identify forests, irrespective of the nature of land ownership or whether they are notified, recognized, or classified in a time-bound manner.
    • Hence, an expert committee constituted by the Karnataka government after the Supreme Court order identified ‘deemed forests’ as “land having the characteristic of forests irrespective of the ownership’”.
  • Lonar lake, Sur Sarovar declared as Ramsar sites

    News: : India has named Lonar lake and Sur Sarovar lake as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

    Facts:

    Lonar Lake:

    • It is a notified National Geo Heritage Monument located at Lonar, Maharashtra.
    • Formation: The lake is believed to have been formed when a meteorite crashed into Earth around 50,000 years ago.The lake sits inside the Deccan Plateau- a massive plain of volcanic basalt rock created by eruptions some 65 million years ago.
    • Significance: The lake is mentioned in ancient scripts like the Skanda Purana, the Padma Purana and the Ain-i-Akbari.

    Soor Sarovar Lake:

    • It is also known as Keetham lake and is situated alongside river Yamuna in Agra,Uttar Pradesh.
    • The lake is situated within the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary which was declared as a bird sanctuary in the year 1991.It also has a Bear Rescue centre for rescued dancing bears.

    Additional Facts:

    • Wetland Sites in India: India now has a total of 41 wetlands that are recognised as Ramsar sites which is the highest in South Asia.
    • Ramsar Convention: It is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
    • Montreux Record: It is a register of wetland sites on the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance. It shows such sites where there has been or likely to be adverse ecological changes due to anthropogenic activities. Indian sites in the Montreux Record are Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan), Loktak Lake (Manipur).
  • Global Initiative to reduce Land Degradation and Coral Reef program

    Land Degradation and Coral Reef program

    News: Global Initiative to reduce Land Degradation and Coral Reef program has been launched at G20 Environment Ministers Meet.

    Facts:

    • Global Initiative to reduce Land Degradation: It aims to strengthen the implementation of existing frameworks to prevent, halt and reverse land degradation within G20 member states and globally taking into account possible implications on the achievement of other SDGs.
    • Global Coral Reef R&D Accelerator Platform: It is an innovative action-oriented initiative aimed at creating a global research and development(R&D) program to advance research, innovation and capacity building in all facets of coral reef conservation.

    Additional Facts:

    • Land Degradation: It is any reduction or loss in the biological or economic productive capacity of the land resource base.
    • Corals: They are small (0.25-12 inches), soft-bodied marine organisms. They live in colonies called reefs that they build using a limestone skeleton(calicle) lying at their base.
    • G20: It is an international group initially founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis as a forum for finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries and the European Union.
  • Plan to build temporary bird shelters near Sambhar Lake

    News: Rajasthan government has decided to build temporary shelters for migratory birds near the Sambhar Lake (near Jaipur) before 2020’s winter season.

    Facts:

    • Sambhar Lake: It is India’s largest inland saline water body located near Jaipur in Rajasthan.
    • Geography: 
      • The lake is surrounded on all sides by the Aravali hills and is spread across Jaipur and Nagaur districts and also a part of Ajmer district in Rajasthan.
      • The lake receives water from five rivers Medtha, Samaod, Mantha, Rupangarh, Khari and Khandela.
    • Significance: The lake was also designated as a Ramsar site in 1990.It is also famous for salt production and is also an Important Bird Area(IBA).
    • Why there is a need for shelters: Every year, a large number of birds from the cold northern regions of Central Asia come to Sambhar Lake.In 2019, more than 20,000 migratory birds died due to avian botulism in the lake.

    Additional Facts:

    • Avian Botulism: It is a neuro-muscular illness caused by Botulinum (natural toxin) that is produced by bacteria, Clostridium botulinum.
      • The bacteria is commonly found in the soil, rivers, and seawater.It affects both humans and animals.
      • The bacteria also need anaerobic (absence of oxygen) conditions and do not grow in acidic conditions.
      • The illness affects the nervous system of birds, leading to paralysis in their legs and wings.
  • Asan Conservation Reserve gets Ramsar site tag

    News: The Asan Conservation Reserve (ACR) was declared as a site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention becoming Uttarakhand state’s first entry into the coveted list and 38th Ramsar Wetland Site of India.

    Facts:

    • Asan Conservation Reserve: It is located on the banks of Yamuna river near Dehradun district in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
    • Species: It is home to species such as white rumped vulture(Critically Endangered), ruddy shelduck(Least Concern), red-headed vulture (Critically Endangered), Asian woolly neck(Vulnerable) among others.
    • Significance: The wetland also acts as host to several migratory birds from October till March.

    Additional Facts:

    • Ramsar Convention on Wetland (1971): It is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources
    • Montreux Record: It is a register of wetland sites on the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance. It shows such sites where there has been or likely to be adverse ecological changes due to anthropogenic activities. Indian sites in the Montreux Record are Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan), Loktak Lake (Manipur).

     

  • Kabartal Wetland designated as Ramsar Site

    Kabartal Wetland:-

    News: Kabartal Wetland has been designated as Ramsar sites.With this, the total number of Ramsar sites in India is 39, the highest in South Asia.

    Facts:

    • Kabartal Wetland: It is also known as Kanwar Jheel.It covers 2,620 hectares of the Indo-Gangetic plains in the Begusarai district of Bihar.
    • Significance: It acts as a vital flood buffer for the region besides providing livelihood opportunities to local communities.
    • Biodiversity: Significant biodiversity is present in the wetland.It is also an important stopover along the Central Asian Flyway for migratory waterbirds.
    • Species: It is home to species such as white rumped vulture(Critically Endangered), red-headed vulture (Critically Endangered) and two waterbirds, the sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) and Baer’s pochard (Aythya baeri).

    Additional Facts:

    • Ramsar Convention on Wetland (1971): It is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources
    • Montreux Record: It is a register of wetland sites on the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance. It shows such sites where there has been or likely to be adverse ecological changes due to anthropogenic activities. Indian sites in the Montreux Record are Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan), Loktak Lake (Manipur).
  •  UNESCO includes Panna in the “World Network of Biosphere Reserves”

    News: UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere(MAB) program has included the Panna Biosphere Reserve to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

    Facts:

    • Panna Biosphere Reserve: It is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
    • Vegetation: Panna is characterized by forests and marshy vegetation, with an abundance of rare medicinal plants as well as other non-timber forestry products such as Kattha, gum, and resins.
    • Significance: It is a critical tiger habitat area and hosts the Panna Tiger Reserve, as well as the World Heritage site of the Khajuraho Group of Monuments.

    Additional Facts:

    • MAB program: It is an intergovernmental scientific program launched in 1971 by UNESCO to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments.
      • Under the program, UNESCO has established the World Network of Biosphere Reserves(WNBR). Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments. If selected by UNESCO, they are included in the WNBR.
    • There are 12 biosphere reserves of India which have been recognized internationally under the Man and Biosphere(MAB) Reserve program. These are: 1) Nilgiri(First one to be included) 2) Gulf of Mannar 3) Sunderban 4) Nanda Devi 5) Nokrek 6) Pachmarhi 7) Similipal 8) Achanakmar – Amarkantak 9) Great Nicobar 10) Agasthyamala 11) Khangchendzonga (2018) and 12) Panna(2020).
  • ‘adopt-an-animal’ scheme of Nandankanan zoo

    News: Nandankanan Zoological Park(NZP) which suffered a huge loss following its closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic has revived its innovative ‘Adopt-An-Animal’ programme to mobilise resources for animals.

    Facts:

    • Nandankanan Zoological Park(NZP): It is located in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.Unlike other zoos in the country, Nandankanan is built right inside the forest and set in a completely natural environment.
    • Uniqueness:
      • It is the first zoo in the World to breed White tiger and Melanistic tiger and it is the only conservation breeding centre of Indian Pangolins in the world.
      • First captive breeding centre for endangered Gharials in the year 1980.
      • Kanjia Lake – A wetland of National importance (2006).
      • It is the only zoological park in India to become an institutional member of World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA).
      • It is the only zoo in India after which an express train Puri-New Delhi express has been named as “Nandankanan Express”.
      • It is the first zoo in India where endangered Ratel was born in captivity.
  • Blue flag certification awarded to 8 Beaches of India

    On Sunday, India has received prestigious ‘Blue Flag’ certification for all its eight beaches, spread across five states and two union territories that were recommended by the government. 

    The recommendation was made on September 18 by the government. 

    Beaches awarded blue certification are

    1. Shivrajpur in Gujarat, 
    2. Ghoghla in Diu, 
    3. Kasarkod and Padubidri in Karnataka (2) 
    4. Kappad in Kerala, 
    5. Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh, 
    6. Golden in Odisha and 
    7. Radhanagar in Andaman and Nicobar Islands,

    Blue Flag Certification 

    Blue flag can be obtained by a beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) member countries.

    Awarded by:  Denmark-based non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) awards Blue Flag Certification. 

    Criterion: It is a globally most recognized eco-label accorded based on 33 stringent criteria under four major heads: 

    1. Environmental education and information, 
    2. Bathing water quality 
    3. Safety and services at the beaches
    4. Environment management and conservation

    In order to qualify for the Blue Flag, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained. 

    The international jury for the award comprises of members of the Denmark-based NGO Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

    From 50 countries 4,664 beaches have been selected so far by FEE for the eco-label. As of now Spain will around 684 Blue Flag Beaches, Marinas, and Boats, tops the list of Certifications, followed by France and Turkey.

    blue certification

    Significance of recognition 

    Receiving Blue Flag Certification is an indication of high environmental and quality standards and certified beaches are considered the world’s cleanest beaches. Certification will promote tourism to the listed beaches in India.

    India is now in the first country in the “Asia-Pacific” region which has achieved this feat in just about 2 years’ time and is now in the league of 50 “BLUE FLAG” countries.

    About the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)

    With members in 77 countries, FEE is the world’s largest non-government, non-profit organization promoting sustainable development through environmental education. 

    Following are 5 Environmental Education Programs by FEE: 

    1. Blue Flag, 
    2. Green Key
    3. Eco-Schools, 
    4. Young Reporters for the Environment
    5. Learning about Forests 

    Organisation has been recognised by UNESCO and UNEP as a world-leader within the fields of Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development.