India claims to be on track to achieve its 2020 biodiversity targets

India claims to be on track to achieve its 2020 biodiversity targets
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NEW DELHI, December 29: India on Saturday submitted its Sixth National Report (NR6) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), claiming that the country is on track to achieve its 2020 biodiversity targets (conservation of species and ecosystems) at the national level and is also contributing significantly towards achievement of the global goals.
The Report contains details of what all the country has been doing to conserve and protect different species of flora and fauna. It carries updates on multiple measures being taken to increase forest cover, mangroves, wetlands, wildlife habitats and water bodies including its river system.
“While globally, biodiversity is facing increasing pressure on account of habitat fragmentation and destruction, invasive alien species, pollution, climate change and overuse of resources, India is one of the few countries where forest cover is on the rise, with its forests teeming with wildlife,” said Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan after submission of the NR6.
He said India was among the first five countries in the world, the first in Asia and the first among the biodiversity rich mega diverse countries to have submitted NR6 to the CBD secretariat.
Submission of national reports is a mandatory obligation on countries to international treaties, including CBD – an agreement adopted globally during the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Under the CBD, a strategic plan for biodiversity conservation between 2011-2020 with five goals and 20 targets was planned in 2010. India had, accordingly, planned 12 national biodiversity targets (NBTs). The NR6 is a kind of progress report on those targets which broadly includes themes on awareness, conservation, protection and expansion of wildlife and marine ecosystems.
The Report claimed that the country has been making good progress on most of these fronts and it has been investing a huge amount (to the tune of Rs 70,000 crores per annum) on biodiversity directly or indirectly through several development schemes of the Central and State governments.
Referring to the progress, the report says the population of lion has risen from 177 in 1968 to over 520 in 2015, and elephants from 12,000 in 1970s to 30,000 in 2015.
“One-horned Indian Rhino which was on the brink of extinction during the early 20th century, now number 2400.
Further, while globally over 0.3 % of total recorded species are critically endangered, in India only 0.08% of the species recorded are in this category,” said the environment ministry while referring to the Report.
There are, however, many areas where India will have to make substantial efforts to even reach closer to its 2020 targets. It includes identification of marine protected areas and work towards conservation of marine ecosystem.
“Briefly, the Report highlights that while India has exceeded/overachieved two NBTs, it is on track to achieve eight NBTs and in respect of the remaining two NBTs also, India is striving to meet the targets by the stipulated time of 2020,” claimed the ministry.
The Report notes that India with well over 20% of its total geographical area under biodiversity conservation has exceeded the terrestrial component of target (17%). Similarly, India has also made noteworthy achievement towards NBT relating to access and benefit sharing among member countries.
The areas where India has been on track to meet its 2020 targets include raising awareness about biodiversity; sustainable management of agriculture; maintaining genetic diversity of cultivated plants, farms livestock and their wild relatives; minimising genetic erosion and protecting the vast heritage of coded and oral traditional knowledge relating to biodiversity for larger human welfare among others.
“As a mega diverse country harbouring nearly 7-8% of globally recorded species while supporting 18% of the global human population on a mere 2.4% of the world’s land area, India’s quest for inclusive economic development while maintaining integrity of its natural capital is being pursued through various programmes and strategies,” said the ministry while noting country’s efforts to reach its NBTs under given national circumstances and development needs. (TNN)