Biodiversity Conservation – By Shubham Singh

Dr David Suzuki, a Canadian academic and environmental activist, said “If we pollute the air, water and soil that keep us alive and well, and destroy the biodiversity that allows natural systems to function, no amount of money will save us.” Currently, we are on the verge of losing our biological diversity at the fastest rate ever since human civilization. From economy to environment, water to weather, soil to shelter, fire to food and even for most of our medicines we are still dependent on nature and its biodiversity. However, despite so much reliance on nature, humans continue to exploit natural resources beyond limit inviting destruction for current and the future generations. Increasing deforestation, industrialization, urbanization, eutrophication and bio magnification are directly or indirectly decreasing the biological diversity and its habitat resulting in reduced carrying capacity of nature. Extinction of some species and many more species becoming endangered will cause a great disturbance in our ecosystems and cost us both in terms of life as well as the capital. We are losing species at a rate 1,000 times greater than at any other time in recorded human history. Thus, we cannot afford to be ignorant when our mother nature is crying for help. We must remember that we as Homo Sapiens are a part of nature.  If we can degrade nature with our actions for our need and greed, we also have the power to heal it because it has solutions for solving all our problems.

We need to address the damage caused by anthropogenic as well as natural factors which have destroyed amazon rainforests, and forests in other countries including Australia, Canada, USA, and India potentially making some rare species extinct even before their entry into the taxonomic classification. We must enhance awareness of the importance of biodiversity and emphasize the urgent need of conservation supplementing the work of the United Nations. Sacred groves in several countries such as India, China, and Indonesia have many of flora and fauna preserved due to the religious faith as well as traditional teachings. A few examples of sacred groves include sacred bamboo reserve in Manipur and Gumpa forest in Arunachal Pradesh. Sacred grooves show that the approach of beginning the conservation efforts at local level and then moving to international effort would be an effective way to conserve and protect our biodiversity while educating the public about the significance of natural resources.

However, “great responsibilities come with great challenges” as the demands for more land and resources are increasing in developing countries such as India and China which are at their fastest growth rate and the increasing population need more resources. Often the issue of biodiversity conservation is unable to move from documents to practice despite relevant discussions. Growth and industrialization are necessary for developing as well as underdeveloped countries.  Thus, a balanced and sustainable use of biodiversity is of prime importance in current situation.

Since the year 2013, more than 90 rhinos were killed by poachers for their horns and as per the records of 2016, nine Indian Rhinos have been killed in Kaziranga national park of Assam. This number might seem low but for an endangered species this may be disastrous, and we may lose the species within a few decades. The importance of plant species for various medicinal uses has been known for ages. According to reports, more than 70% of the anti-cancer drugs are derived from plants in the tropical rainforests. The future of sustainable and profitable agriculture is largely dependent on varieties of cereals and pulses that are resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses. The primary step in initiating a crop improvement program is to have a collection of plant genetic resource which are a source of desirable genes and losing genetic biodiversity may prove to be disastrous for achieving success in breeding desirable crops.

We have many ways to conserve our biodiversity by in-situ as well ex-situ conservation. Globally we have 4000 national parks, 36 biodiversity hotspots and in India we have 566 wildlife sanctuaries and 42 Ramsar sites which contribute towards biodiversity conservation. International organizations such as Biodiversity International and various gene banks and gene sanctuaries are focusing on crop specific germplasm collection and maintenance of genetic diversity. in India, the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resource at New Delhi, Botanical Survey of India at Kolkata and Forest Research Institute, Dehradun are engaged in plant genetic resource conservation.

We have made a lot of efforts in our journey of biodiversity conservation and achieved several objectives. But if ask the question “is it enough”?  “no” will be a simple answer, because the pace of biodiversity loss is faster than the speed of biodiversity conservation.  We need to consistently monitor and modify our strategies to conserve our biodiversity so that our next generations can enjoy the gifts of nature. As humans it is our prime responsibility to save mother nature as we will not exist without it.


About the Author:

Shubham has a B. Sc (Hons) in Agriculture Science from Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University, Jhansi, India. He wants to become a plant breeder to contribute his efforts towards global food and nutrition security in developing countries. He firmly believes that arts and science are complimentary to each other and artistic works such as poems can act as a vehicle for communication of science to common public. He loves to put his scientific thoughts in the form of poetry.

Posted by Adriane Coelho