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Special Content

Issue no 18, 30 July - 05 August 2022

World Nature Conservation Day

India on Road to Quantitative & Qualitative Conservation of Biodiversity


World Nature Conservation Day is observed all over the world on July 28 of every year. It is observed to create awareness about protecting and conserving natural resources from threats like deforestation, illegal wildlife trade, pollution, use of plastics, and chemicals. The objective is also to increase awareness about protecting the natural resources that the Earth is bestowed with and the consequences of damaging them. The natural world is facing an ever-increasing threat from unsustainable practices and the challenge is to preserve and conserve nature in the process of achieving sustainable development. So, it is necessary to understand what ‘sustainability’ truly means and also it is important to inculcate environment friendly habits to lead a green lifestyle. In India, the task of conserving nature lies with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). The SDG 13 (Urgent action to protect against climate change and its impact)), 15 (Sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and prevention of Biodiversity Loss) and 12 (Ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns) of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals have been mapped majorly to this Ministry. The vision is to provide the citizens of India a clean, green and healthy environment with peoples’ participation and to support higher and inclusive economic growth through sustainable utilization of available natural resources.

Government Schemes & Initiatives

The Government has taken steps to protect, sustain, conserve and augment forests in the country through promotional as well as regulatory measures. National Afforestation Programme (NAP) has been the flagship afforestation scheme of the Ministry, implemented since 2000 on pan India basis, for afforestation in identified degraded forest areas with people’s participation and decentralised forest governance. National Mission for a Green India, or Green India Mission (GIM) activities were started in 2015-16. NAP and GIM, along with other afforestation schemes, have been contributing in restoration of degraded forest areas in the country. This has helped in stabilization and increase in the extent of forest cover, which is evident from the India State of Forest Report. In order to achieve the targeted objectives of national afforestation programmes, the Ministry has approved the merger of NAP into GIM. The ‘India State of Forest Report 2021’ found that the total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.9 million hectare which is 24.62 per cent of the geographical area of the country. As compared to the assessment of 2019, this is an increase of 2,261 sq km in the total forest and tree cover of the country. The present assessment revealed that 17 States/Union Territories have above 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover. Indian forests’ total carbon stock is estimated to be 7,204 million tonnes, according to the report, and there is an increase of 79.4 million tonnes in the carbon stock of the country as compared to the last assessment of 2019. The annual increase in the carbon stock is 39.7 million tonnes. In addition, tree plantation is being promoted as a people’s movement through ‘School Nursery Yojana’ and ‘Nagar Van Yojana’. The School Nursery Yojana is aimed at involving students in the process of raising plantations as part of their learning and by providing an environment for the students to understand and appreciate the significance of plants in maintaining and sustaining the natural ecosystem. Nagar Van Yojana aims develop 400 Nagar Vans and 200 Nagar Vatikas with the objective to significantly enhance the tree outside forests and green cover in cities leading to better environment; enhancement of biodiversity and ecological benefits to the urban and peri-urban areas apart from improving quality of life of city dwellers. The Project Dolphin and the Project Lion are in place and the associated environmental impact of this are also strengthened at the major sanctuary and forest areas for cleaner Environmental Protection of endangered species. Project Tiger not only contributed to the conservation of tigers but also of the entire ecosystem The Government has launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as a longterm, time-bound, national level strategy to tackle the air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner with targets to achieve 20% to 30% reduction in PM10 and PM 2.5 concentrations by 2024 keeping 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration. The Central Government has notified a Comprehensive Action Plan (CAP) in 2018 identifying timelines and implementing agencies for actions identified for prevention, control and mitigation of air pollution in Delhi and NCR. Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was notified on January 12, 2017, for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution in Delhi and NCR. It identifies graded measures and implementing agencies for response to four AQI categories, namely, Moderate to Poor, Very Poor, Severe and Severe + or Emergency. Several steps have been taken for creating awareness amongst the general population. SAMEER app has been launched wherein air quality information is available to the public along with provision for registering complaints against air polluting activities. The MoEFCC is implementing Environment Education, Awareness and Training Scheme with the objective to promote environmental awareness among all sections of the society and to mobilize people’s participation for conservation of environment. Under the National Green Corps (NGC) programme of the Ministry, about one lakh schools have been identified as Ecoclubs, wherein, nearly thirty lakh students are actively participating in various environment protection and conservation activities, including the issues related to the air pollution The MoEFCC, as per the mandate of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), encourages ex-situ conservation of Rare Endangered Threatened (RET) species and endemic plants through botanic gardens, protected areas and biosphere reserves. Financial assistance for conservation is extended by the Ministry under various schemes such as Assistance to Botanic Garden (ABG) scheme, Project Tiger scheme and Environment Education, Awareness and Training (EEAT scheme. Under EEAT scheme, Ecoclubs in schools and colleges are supported to promote environmental awareness and mobilize students’ participation for environment conservation. In addition, the Central Zoo Authority flagged off the outreach campaign on 12th March, 2021 entitled 'Conservation to Co-existence: the people connect' which is a 75- week long initiative where 75 conservation priority species and 75 zoos across India are highlighted (one species and zoo per week). The Government has developed and launched the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) to provide an integrated vision towards cooling across sectors encompassing inter alia reducing cooling demand, refrigerant transition, enhancing energy efficiency and better technology options with a 20- year time horizon. Space cooling in buildings being the most important can significantly contribute to achieving the goals in the ICAP and has been prioritized for implementation of the recommendations given in the ICAP.

Compiled by: EN Team

Source: PIB