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Biodiversity Profile Of India

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Contents
Biodiversity Profile Of India ................................................................................................................. 2 Biogeographic Zones .............................................................................................................................. 4 Protect ed Area Net works In India ........................................................................................................ 8 Species And Ecosystem ......................................................................................................................... 11

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Biodiversity Profile Of India

iological diversity or biodiversity encompasses the variety of all life on earth. Biodiversity manifests itself at three levels: species diversity which refers to the numbers and kinds of living organisms; genetic diversity which refers to genetic variation within species; and ecosystem diversity which denotes the variety of habitats, biological communities and ecological processes. India is one of the 17 identified mega diverse countries of t he world. From about 70 per cent of the total geographical area surveyed so far, 45,500 plant species (including fungi and lower plants) and 91,000 animal species, representing about seven percent o f t he worlds flora and 6.5 per cent o f t he worlds fauna, respectively, have been described. Nearly 6,500 native

plants are still used prominently in t he indigenous healthcare systems. From the biodiversity standpoint, India has some 59,353 insect species, 2,546 fish species, 240 amphibian species, 460 reptile species, 1,232 bird species and 397 mammal species, of which 18.4 per cent are endemic and 10.8 per cent are threatened. The country is home to at least 18,664 species of vascular plants, of which 26.8 per cent are endemic. With only 2.4 per cent of the total land area of the world, t he known bio logical divers it y of India contributes 8 per cent to the known global biological diversity. It has been estimated t hat at least 10 per cent o f t he countrys recorded wild flora, and possibly t he same percent age o f it s wild fauna, are o n t he threatened list, many of t hem o n t he verge o f extinction.

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India has two biodiversity hot spots, namely: 1. T he Eastern Himalayas Forests Grasslands Wetlands Coastal and Marine ecosystems Desert Ecosystem

2. T he Western Ghats And, it is composed o f diverse eco logical habit at s:

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Biogeographic Zones

ndia, with varied terrain, topography, land us e, geo graphic and climatic factors, can be divided into ten recognizable biogeographic zones. These zones encompass a variety of eco systems mountains, plateaus, rivers, forests, deserts, wet lands, lakes, mangroves, coral reefs, coasts and islands.

uncia) and the migratory Black necked Crane (Grus nigricollis).

Himalayan Z one

Trans- Himalayan Region


Trans - Himalayan Region, constituting 5.6 per cent of the total geographical area, includes the high altitude, cold and arid mountain areas of Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, North Sikkim, Lahaul and Spiti areas o f Himachal Pradesh. This zone has sparse alpine steppe vegetation that harbors several endemic species and is a favourable habitat for the biggest populations of wild sheep and goat in t he world and other rare fauna that includes Snow Leopard (Uncia Free eBook

Himalayan Zone, in the far North, constituting 6.4 per cent of the total geographical area includes some of the highest peaks in the world and makes India one of the richest areas in terms of habitats and species. The steep slopes, unconsolidated soils and intense rainfall render the zone extremely fragile. The alpine and sub- alpine forests, grassy meadows and moist mixed deciduous forest provide diverse habitat for endangered species of bovid such as Bharal (Pseudois nayaur), Ibex (Capra ibex), Markhor (Capra falconeri), Tahr (Hemitragus jemlabicus), and Takin (Budoreas taxicolor). Other rare and endangered species restricted to this zone include Hangul (Cervus eldieldi) and Musk Deer (Mos chus moschiferus) Free Sharing

Indian Desert Z one


Indian Desert Zone, constituting 6.6 per cent of the total geographical area, includes the Thar and the Kutch deserts and has large expanses o f grass land that supports several endangered species of mammals such as Wolf (Canis lupus), Caracal (Felis caracal), Desert Cat (Felis libyca) and birds of conservation interest viz., Houbara Bustard (Chamydotis undulate) and the Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps).

Semi- arid Region

Western Ghats, constituting 4.0 per cent of the total geographical area, is one of the major tropical evergreen forest regions in India. The zone stretches from the hills to the South of the Tapti River in the North to Kanyakumari in the South and in the West, this zone is bound by the coast. This zone represents one of the biodiversity hot spots with some 15,000 species of higher plants, of which 4,000 (27 per cent ) are endemic to the region. Significant species endemic to this region include Nilgiri Langur (Presbytis jobni), Lion Tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus), Grizzled Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura), Malabar Civet (Viverricula megaspila), Nilgiri Tahr (Hemit ragus bylocrius) and Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocycero usgriseus). The Travancore Tortoise (Indo testudo forstem) and Cane turtle (Heosemys silvatica) are two endangered taxa restricted to a small area in central Western Ghats. Deccan Plat eau, constituting 42 per cent of the total geographical area, is a semiarid region that falls in the rain shadow area of the Western Ghats. This bio geographic zone of peninsular India is by far the most extensive zone, covering Indias finest forests, particularly in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa. The zone comprising of deciduous forests, thorn forests and degraded scrubland support diverse wildlife species. Species such as Chital (Axis axis), Sambar (Cervus unicolor), Nilgai (Boselapbus trago camelus) and Chous ingha (Tetracerus quadricornis) are abundant in t his z o ne.

Semi- arid Region, constituting 16.6 per cent of the total geographical area, is a transition zone between the desert and the dense forests of Western Ghats. Peninsular India has two large regions, which are climatically semi- arid. This semi- arid region also has several artificial and natural lakes and marshy lands. The dominant grass and palatable shrub layer in this zone supports the highest wildlife bio mass. The cervid species of Sambar (Cervus unicolor) and Chital (Axis axis) are restricted to the better wooded hills and moister valley areas respectively. The Lion (Leo persica), an endangered carnivore species (restricted to a small area in Gujarat), Caracal (Felis caracal), Jackal (Canis aureus) and Wolf (Canis lupus) are some of the endangered species that are characteristic of this region.

Deccan Plateau

Western Ghats

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Some other species like Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak) and Gaur (Antilope cervicapra) are more frequent in, o r are restricted to moister areas, but are still found in fairly large numbers. Species with small populations include the Elephant (Elephas maximus) in Bihar- Orissa and Karnataka- Tamil Nadu belts , Wild Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis ) in a small area at the junction of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and the hard ground Swamp Deer (Cervus duvauceli), now restricted to a single locality in Madhya Pradesh.

consequent environmental degradation and deforestation.

North- East Region


North- East Region, constituting 5.2 per cent of the total geo graphical area, represents the transition zone between the Indian, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese bio - geographical regions as well as being a meeting point of the Himalayan mountains and peninsular India. The North- East is thus the bio geographical gateway for much of Indias fauna and flora and also a biodiversity hotspot. A diverse set of habitats coupled with long term geological stability has allowed the development of significant levels of endemism in all animal and plant groups.

Gangetic Plain

Coasts
The countrys extensive Coasts, constituting 2.5 per cent of the total geographical area with sandy beaches, mangroves, mud flats, coral reefs and marine angiosperm pastures make them the wealth and health zones of India. The coast line from Gujarat to Sunderbans is estimated to be 5,423 km long. A total of 25 islets constitute the Lakshadweep, which are of coral origin, and have a typical reef lagoon system, rich in biodiversity. However, the densely populated Lakshadweep islands virtually have no natural vegetation.

Gangetic Plain, constituting 10.8 per cent of the total geographical area, is a flat alluvial region lying to the North and South of the Ganga River and it s major tributaries are in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Gangetic plain is topographically homogenous for hundreds of kilometers. The characteristic fauna of this region include Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), Elephant (Elephas maximus), Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), Swamp Deer (Cervus duvauceli), Hog- Deer (Axis porcinus) and Hispid Hare (Carprolagus bispidus). This zone gains considerable ecological significance in the context of increasing industrialization and pollution and the Free eBook

Andaman Islands

And

Nicobar

Andaman and Nicobar Islands, constituting 0.3 per cent of the total geographical area are one of the three tropical moist evergreen forests zones in India. The islands house an array o f flora and fauna not found elsewhere. The Free Sharing

elongated North- South oriented groups of 348 Andaman Islands have a biogeographical affinity with Myanmar. The Nicobar Islands, lying only 90 kms away from Sumatra have much stronger Indonesian and South-East Asian elements. These islands are centres of high endemism and contain some of Indias finest evergreen forests and support a wide diversity of corals.

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Protected Area Networks In India


A network of 668 Protected Areas (PAs) has been established, extending over 1, 61,221.57s q. kms. (4.90% of total geographic area), comprising 102 National Parks, 515 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 47 Conservation Reserves and 4 Community Reserves. UNESCO has designated 5 Protected Areas as World Heritage Sites. As the ecosystems and species do not recognise political borders, the concept of Transboundary Protected Areas has been initiated for coordinated conservation of ecological units and corridors with bilateral and/or multilateral cooperation of the neighbouring nations. There are 4 categories of the Protected Areas viz, National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves.

ndia is one of the 17 mega diverse countries of the world. With only 2.4% of the worlds land area, 16.7% of the worlds human population and 18% livestock, it contributes about 8% of the known global biodiversity, however, putting enormous demands on our natural resources. India is home to worlds largest wild tigers population and has got unique assemblage of globally important endangered species like Asiatic lion, Asian Elephant, Onehorned Rhinoceros, Gangetic River Dolphin, Snow Leopard, Kashmir Stag, Dugong, Gharial, Great Indian Bustard, Lion Tailed Macaque et c.

Protected Area Network


A National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), chaired by the Prime Minister of India provides for policy framework for wildlife conservation in the country. T he National Wildlife Action Plan (2002- 2016) was adopted in 2002, emphasizing the peoples participation and their support for wildlife conservation. Indias conservation planning is based on the philosophy of identifying and protecting representative wild habitats across all the ecosystems. The Indian Constitution entails the subject of forests and wildlife in the Concurrent list. The Federal Ministry acts as a guiding torch dealing with the policies and planning on wildlife conservation, while the provincial Forest Departments are vested with the responsibility of implementation of national policies and plans. Free eBook

Sanctuary
Sanctuary is an area which is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphologic, natural or zoological significance. The Sanctuary is declared for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife or its environment. Certain rights of people living inside the Sanctuary could be permitted. Further, during the settlement of claims, before finally notifying the Sanctuary, the Collector may, in consultation with the Chief Wildlife Warden, allow the continuation of any right of any person in or over any land within the limits of the Sanctuary.

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National Park
National Park is an area having adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural or zoological significance. The National Park is declared for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife or its environment, like that of a Sanctuary. The difference between a Sanctuary and a National Park mainly lies in the vesting of rights of people living inside. Unlike a Sanctuary, where certain rights can be allowed, in a National Park, no rights are allowed. No grazing of any livestock shall also be permitted inside a National Park while in a Sanctuary; the Chief Wildlife Warden may regulate, control or prohibit it. In addition, while any removal or exploitation of wildlife or forest produce from a Sanctuary requires the recommendation of the State Board for Wildlife, removal etc., from a National Park requires recommendation of the National Board for Wildlife (However, as per orders of Honble Supreme Court dated 9th May 2002 in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 337 of 1995, such removal/exploit at ion from a Sanctuary also requires recommendation of the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife).

seascapes, flora and fauna and their habitat. The rights of people living inside a Conservation Reserve are not affected.

Community Reserves
Community Reserves can be declared by the State Government in any private or community land, not comprised within a National Park, Sanctuary or a Conservation Reserve, where an individual or a community has volunteered to conserve wildlife and its habitat. Community Reserves are declared for the purpose of protecting fauna, flora and traditional or cultural conservation values and practices. As in the case of a Conservation Reserve, the rights of people living inside a Community Reserve are not affected.

Regulations/Laws Relating To Protected Areas (PAs)


The PAs are constituted and governed under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which has been amended from time to time, with the changing ground realities concerning wildlife crime control and PAs management. Implementation of this Act is further complemented by other Acts viz. Indian Forest Act, 1927, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of the Central Government supplements the efforts of provincial governments in wildlife crime control through enforcement of CITES and control of Free Sharing

Conservation Reserves
Conservation Reserves can be declared by the State Governments in any area owned by the Government, particularly the areas adjacent to National Parks and Sanctuaries and those areas which link one Protected Area with another. Such declaration should be made after having consultations with the local communities. Conservation Reserves are declared for the purpose of protecting landscapes,

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wildlife crimes having cross - border, inter-state and international ramifications. In order to strengthen and synergise global wildlife conservation efforts, India is a party to major international conventions viz Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, UNESCOWorld Heritage Committee and Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

Main Issues Concerning The Management Of Protected Areas


Wildlife conservation and management in India is currently facing a myriad of

complex challenges that are both ecological and social in nature. Issues such as habitat loss/fragmentation, overuse of biomass resources in the context of biotic pressures increasing human-wildlife conflicts, livelihood dependence on forests and wildlife resources poaching and illegal trade in wildlife parts and products, need for maintaining a broad base of public support for wildlife conservation exemplify and characterize the contemporary wildlife conservation scenario in India. The government and the civil society are taking several measures to address these issues. Improved synergies and better coordination amongst the wide array of stakeholders are needed to meet the challenges of conserving India's diverse wilderness resources.

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Species And Ecosystem

iological diversity or biodiversity encompasses the variety of all life on earth. Biodiversity manifests itself at three levels: species diversity which refers to the numbers and kinds of living organisms; genetic diversity which refers to genetic variation within species; and eco system diversity which denotes the variety of habitats, biological communities and ecological processes.

What Is Species?
A species is defined as a group of closely related, structurally and functionally similar organisms which interbreed with one another in nature, but not with organisms of other groups. Species are the building blocks of biodiversity and ecosystems. Species have significant aesthetic, cultural, spiritual and educational values. Species form the very foundations of our livelihoods, by providing us with what are known as goods and services. These range from Free eBook

physical goods including food, fuel, clothes and medicine, to essential services such as the purification of water and air, pollination and the prevention of soil erosion. Species also provide an invaluable resource for economic activities including fisheries, forestry and tourism. With continuing decline of species, natures ability to provide us with these vital goods and services becomes severely diminished, and the livelihoods of billions of people across the globe are left in jeopardy as a result.

What Is An Ecosystem?
A living community cannot live in isolation. It lives in an environment which supplies its material and energy requirements and provides other living conditions. The living community, together with the physical environment forms an interacting system called the Ecosystem. Free Sharing

An ecosystem can be natural or artificial, temporary or permanent. Large grassland or a forest, a small tract in a forest or a single log, an edge of a pond, a village, an aquarium or a manned spaceship can all be regarded as ecosystem. An ecosystem can thus be defined as a functional unit of nature, where living organisms interact among themselves and also with the surrounding physical environment.

multilateral cooperation neighbouring nations.

of

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Unique Features Of Indias Biodiversity


India has been recognized mega diverse country with four identified hot spots of biodiversity. Of the globally recorded species, India accounts for nearly 7% of all species, about 7.6% of mammalian species, 12.6% of avian species, 6.2% of reptilian species and 6.0% of flowering plant species. A network of 668 Protected Areas (PAs) has been established, extending over 1,61,221.57 sq.kms . (4.90% of total geographical area), comprising 102 National Parks, 515 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 47 Conservation Reserves and 4 Community Reserves. In all, 40 Tiger Reserves and 28 Elephant Reserves have been designated f or species specific management of tiger and elephant habitats. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have designated five Indian protected areas as World Heritage Sites, in view of their uniqueness and richness in flora and fauna. As the ecosystems and species do not recognize political borders, the concept of Trans -boundary Protected Areas has been initiated for coordinated conservation of ecological units and corridors with bilateral and/or

India is one of the eight primary centres of origin of cultivated plants and an acknowledged centre of crop diversity, including about 375 closely related wild species mainly of rice, several important pulses, millets, vegetables, fruits and fibre plants. In addition, nearly 140 breeds of domesticated animals are also found here.

Why Biodiversity Important For India?

Is

Biodiversity encompasses the web of life on earth, of which we are an integral part and upon which we are fully dependant. We derive our supply of food, medicines, energy and many industrial products from biological resources. A rich biodiversity helps maintain ecological balance and natural evolutionary processes. India is rich in biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge, found in coded and non-coded forms, such as in our ancient texts of Indian systems of medicine, and oral undocumented traditions, respectively. With just 2.4% of the worlds land area, India accounts for over 45,000 recorded species of plants and 91,000 recorded species of animals even while supporting almost 18% of human population as well as a large livestock population. The biotic pressures on our biodiversity are, therefore, immense. The wide variety of physical features and climatic situations have resulted in a diversity of ecosystems such as forests , grass lands, wetlands , mangroves , coral reefs and deserts . India is also an acknowledged centre of crop diversity that harbours several wild varieties of crop relatives mainly of rice, maize, millets and barley. This variety is needed to help us Free Sharing

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deal with the diseases which affect crops /plants /animals from time to time. For India, conservation of its biodiversity is crucial not only because it provides several goods and services necessary for human survival, but also because it is directly linked with providing livelihoods to and improving socio-economic conditions of millions of our people, thereby contributing to sustainable development and poverty alleviation. In the last few decades biodiversity has globally come under increasing pressure

on account of factors such as habitat fragmentation, development imperatives, unsustainable consumption pattern and, more recently, global warming. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a scientific assessment carried out during 2001- 2005 on the status of worlds biodiversity, found that changes and decline in biodiversity due to human activities have taken place more rapidly in the last fifty years than at any time in human history.

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