India can become a biodiversity champion

Source– The post is based on the article “India can become a biodiversity champion” published in The Hindu on 23rd February 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Environment

Relevance: Biodiversity conservation

News- Biodiversity is essential to the future of this planet. The importance of our planet’s biodiversity was strongly articulated at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal.

What was the important development during the biodiversity conference in Montreal?

There was an agreement to “halt and reverse” biodiversity loss by conserving 30% of the world’s land and 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, known as the 30×30 pledge.

What are different programmes launched by the Indian government for preserving biodiversity?

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

The National Mission for a Green India aims to increase forest cover on degraded lands and

protect existing forested lands.

The Green Credit Programme has the objective to incentivize environmentally sustainable and responsive actions by companies, individuals and local bodies.

The Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) is particularly significant because of the extraordinary importance of mangroves and coastal ecosystems in mitigating climate change.

The Prime Minister Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment, and Amelioration of Mother Earth (PM­PRANAM) for reducing inputs of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides is critical for sustaining our agriculture.

The Amrit Dharohar scheme is expected to encourage optimal use of wetlands, and enhance biodiversity, carbon stock, eco­tourism opportunities and income generation for local communities.

What is the way forward for successful implementation of these programmes?

It is critical that these programmes should focus on current state of the country’s biodiversity

with evidence based implementation. A science ­based and inclusive monitoring of the programme is important.

New missions and programmes should effectively use modern concepts of sustainability. The focus should be on valuation of ecosystems that consider ecological, cultural, and sociological aspects of our biological wealth.

There is a need to sustain ecological flows through reduction in water use in key sectors such as agriculture. This can be done by encouraging changes to less water intensive crops such as millets and investments in water recycling in urban areas.

For the Green India Mission, implementation should focus on ecological restoration rather than tree plantation. There is a need to choose sites where it can contribute to ecological connectivity in landscapes fragmented by linear infrastructure.

Furthermore, choice of species and density should be informed by available knowledge and evidence on resilience under emerging climate change.

Site selection should also be carefully considered for the mangrove initiative. There is need for greater emphasis on diversity of mangrove species with retention of the integrity of coastal

mud flats and salt pans.

Each of these efforts must be inclusive of local and nomadic communities where these initiatives will be implemented. Traditional Knowledge and practices of these communities should be integrated into the implementation plans.

Each programme should include significant educational and research funding to bring awareness to India’s biological wealth.

The National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well Being should be immediately launched by the government. This mission seeks to harness the power of interdisciplinary knowledge for greening India and its economy.

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