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02 July, 2019

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-I Coastal Erosion Miscellaneous
GS-III Biodiversity Conservation: Role of Local Participation (UPSC GS Paper 3)
GS-I : Miscellaneous
Coastal Erosion

Coastal Erosion

Coastal Erosion is the process of wearing away of the land by the sea due to corrosion, abrasion, hydraulic action, attrition and corrosion/solution.

India has a long coastline of 7,516.6 km giving it a large coastal area. Due to high polulation growth, increasing maritime trade and enormous pace of developmental activities, the settlements and associated infrastructure is moving closer to the seas. Such usage of coastal land is often done without properly understanding the coastal dynamics, leading to long-term damage, majorly to the local communities.

Various reasons responsible for Coastal Erosion are:

  • Wave Energy
  • Climate Change
  • Strong littoral driftt
  • Construction dams in catchment areas
  • Sand and coral mining and dredging

Measures to deal with Coastal Erosion:

  • Construction of saline stone-packaging and breakwater structures
  • By constructing low walls called groyne
  • By installing Geo-Synthetic Tubes
  • By growing more vegetation along the coastline
  • Encouraging Social Forestry
  • Encouraging conservation activities, educational and recreational opportunities (Eco-development)

The coastal regions where land and water meet are ecologically dynamic and sensitive regions, as marine and coastal ecosystems continuously impact on each other. These regions has rich ecosystem such as mangroves, water bodies, seaweeds coral reefs, fisheries and other marine life, and other coastal and marine vegetation. These ecosystems protect the region from saline winds, cyclones, tsunami waves etc., promote carbon sequestration and promote biodiversity as well as provide raw materials for a number of manufacturing activities. Hence, this is an alarming situation for us to overcome from the coastal erosion.

 

India’s Efforts towards Coastal Management

India’s efforts towards coastal development were initiated in 1997, when Government of India implemented the Environment Management Capacity Building (EMCB) programme for 5 years, funded by the International Development Association through the World Bank. Since then, India has made continued efforts in this direction.

Currently, Ministry of Earth Sciences is responsible for monitoring the shoreline changes along the Indian coast on an annual basis. According to MoES,

1. 89% of the shoreline of Andaman and Nicobar islands is eroded by the Bay of Bengal.

2. The shoreline of Tamil Nadu facing the process of accretion (a gradual deposition by water of mud, sand to form dry land), that causes 62% of its coast gaining land.

A National Centre for Coastal Research under Ministry of Earth Sciences is an attached office in MoES dedicated to coastal research. NCCR is mandated to promote research and  addressing issues related to coastal processes, ecosystems, shoreline erosion, pollution, hazards and coastal vulnerability.

The major activities of the centre are as follows:

1. Coastal Processes & Hazards

2. Coastal Water Quality

3. Coastal Habitats & Ecosystems

4. Capacity Building & Training

Another research institute, National Institute for Sustainable Coastal Management works under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Its mission and role: To support integrated management of coastal and marine environment for livelihood security, sustainable development and hazard risk management by enhancing knowledge, research and advisory support, partnerships and network and coastal community interface

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GS-III :
Biodiversity Conservation: Role of Local Participation (UPSC GS Paper 3)

Topic: Biodiversity Conservation: Role of Local Participation

GS Paper 3

Source: The Hindu

 

The CRUX of The Hindu Article:

 

  •  Across India, there are many indigenous communities that manage to lead a meaningful life without destruction of natural ecosystems.
  • These tribes, along with marginalized communities who live on the fringes of forests and millions of smallholder farmers, are the best hope that India has to preserve biodiversity and ensure food security.
  • Nature is facing the threat of another mass extinction of species now. Thus, it increases the importance of such communities. 
  • Although biodiversity loss is a global problem, it can be countered only with local solutions.
  • There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
  • A solution that has succeeded in a temperate, wealthy nation may not be suitable for a country like India.
  • Our tropical homeland is rich in biodiversity, but the imperatives of relentless economic growth, urbanisation, deforestation, and overpopulation place it at risk more than many other places.
  • Thus, nothing can be achieved without the active participation of communities that live close to nature — farmers and forest dwellers.
  • UN agencies are also unanimous that the best way to correct the present course is to heed the accumulated wisdom of indigenous peoples, fishers and farmers.
  • Thus, there is a need to realise that there is hope for the natural ecosystem only if we act on the advice of the local communities. Fortunately, India’s farmers and tribes are nothing if not innovative and they do have local solutions.

 

Biodiversity Conservation

Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity has been an integral part of Indian ethos. The varied eco-climatic conditions coupled with unique geological and cultural features have contributed to an astounding diversity of habitats, which harbor and sustain immense biological diversity at all levels. With only 2.4% of the world's land area, India accounts for 7-8% of recorded species of the world. In terms of species richness, India ranks seventh in mammals, ninth in birds and fifth in reptiles. In terms of endemism of vertebrate groups, India's position is tenth in birds with 69 species, fifth in reptiles with 156 species and seventh in amphibians with 110 species. India's share of crops is 44% as compared to the world average of 11%. India also has 23.39% of its geographical area under forest and tree cover. Of the 34 globally identified biodiversity hotspots, India harbor 3 hotspots, i.e., Himalaya, Indo Burma, Western Ghats, and Sri Lanka. The Western Ghats are also included in the World Heritage list. It is very rich in flora and fauna and serves as the cradle of biodiversity. One of the most pressing environmental issues today is the conservation of biodiversity. Many factors threaten the world's biological heritage.

A report that highlighted the role of Indigenous People

According to a recent Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES), Biodiversity is declining everywhere at an unprecedented rate, but this rate is lower in areas where indigenous people own land

This finding is highly important for our country because of the domination of indigenous people in our forests. One of the classic examples of this is the Dongria Kondh tribal people of the Niyamgiri Hills who are known for their spirited defense of their forested habitat against short­sighted industrialisation. They are among the best conservationist communities of the world. 

According to the IPBES report, 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction and thousands of these would become extinct within decades. The report also highlighted that though the rate of biodiversity decline is less in the land inhabited by the indigenous people, it has also been facing high pressure. The areas managed (under various types of tenure and access regimes) by indigenous people and local communities are facing growing resource extraction, commodity production, mining and transport, and energy infrastructure, with various consequences for local livelihoods and health. Some climate change mitigation programmes have had negative impacts on indigenous peoples and local communities. But the Indigenous people and local communities have been proactively confronting such challenges in partnership with each other and with an array of other stakeholders, through co-management systems and local and regional monitoring networks and by revitalizing and adapting local management systems. 

The report further points out that "Recognizing the knowledge, innovations and practices, institutions and values of indigenous peoples and local communities and their inclusion and participation in environmental governance often enhances their quality of life, as well as nature conservation, restoration and sustainable use, which is relevant to broader society."

An older reference to the same issue was made in 2014 when a report by World Resources Institute found that legal forest rights for communities and government protection of their rights tend to lower carbon dioxide emissions and deforestation.

 

India's Current Scenario

The report holds importance in the current scenario as a few months back, the proceedings against the forest rights act of India was in news. In a writ petition 109 of 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the eviction of illegal claimants must be carried on in the forestland. It also directed the Forest Survey of India to make a satellite survey and place on record the encroachment positions and also state the positions after the eviction as far as possible. This is an important judgment considering that 17 States have rejected a total of 11.91 lakh claims after going through due processes prescribed under the FRA, with two levels of appeal to ensure justice, it is important to note that Gram Sabhas themselves have rejected 14.77 lakh claims as ineligible. 

 

Conclusion

Active participation by the indigenous people, especially who reside in the forests of India is a quintessential requirement for the conservation of the biodiversity.  Being the original home for these communities, people from these communities have a fair idea of the local conditions and know how to preserve the area. India is a land where nature has been worshipped since time immemorial and still some of the indeginous communities consider it to be their duty to conserve nature. Thus, the need of the hour is that instead of evicting forest dwellers from their homes, we should be encouraging them to conserve and nurture their habitats. The claims of the forest dwellers thus must be re-considered in this backdrop.

 

Source: The Hindu, PIB

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