About Blue Flag certification

About Blue Flag certification

  • The tag is given to environment-friendly and clean beaches, equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.
  • To achieve the Blue Flag standards, a beach had to strictly comply with 33 environment and tourism-related conditions, some of the conditions are given below:
    • To achieve the Blue Flag standards, a beach must be plastic-free and equipped with a waste management system.
    • Clean water should be available for tourists, apart from international amenities.
    • The beach should have facilities for studying the environmental impact around the area.
  • The Blue Flag programme is operated under the auspices of the Foundation for Environmental Education and the standards for blue tag certification were established by it in 1985.
  • The Blue Flag programme first started from Paris.
  • Within the next two years, almost all beaches in Europe were accorded the Blue Flag certification.
  • This campaign spread outside Europe, to South Africa, in 2001. Asia remains untouched by it till date.

 

Efforts for Blue tag certification in India

  • The Environment Ministry embarked on the Blue Flag project in December 2017.
  • This project has two main aims:
    • Firstly, to improve the aquatic habitat by cleaning the growing pollution and garbage in the Indian beaches.
    • Secondly, to develop ecological tourism with constant progress and development of tourist facilities.
  • The Indian beaches are being developed by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an environment ministry’s body working for the management of coastal areas, according to the Blue Flag certification standards.
  • There is not a single Blue Flag beach in Asia so far.
  • Chandrabhaga beach of Odisha’s Konark coast was the first to complete the tag certification process.
  • Twelve more beaches in the country are being developed by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an Environment Ministry’s body working for the management of coastal areas, in accordance with the Blue Flag standards.
  • Among them are the Chiwla and Bhogave beaches in Maharashtra and one beach each from Puducherry, Goa, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • These beaches are being developed in accordance with the Blue Flag beach standards under a Unified Coastal Areas Management Programme.

 

About Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)

  • The FEE is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation promoting sustainable development through environmental education.
  • It was established in 1981.
  • It is headquartered at Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • It is active through five programmes; Eco-Schools, Blue Flag, Young Reporters for Environment (YRE),Green Key and Learning about Forests (LEAF).

 

About society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM)

  • It has been established under the aegis of Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change, Government of India. The main objectives of SICOM are as follows:-
    • To support implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) activities in India.
    • To implement the World Bank assisted India ICZM Project.
    • To provide Research Development (R&D) and stakeholders participation in management of the Coastal areas in India.
    • To undertake any additional work or function as may be assigned by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change from time to time in the area of Coastal Management and other related activities.

 

Section : Environment & Ecology

About Pesticides

About Pesticides

  • The term pesticide covers compounds including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, molluscicides, nematicides, plant growth regulators and others.

 

Benefits of pesticides

  • Improving productivity: Food grain production has increased almost fourfold from an estimated 169 million hectares of permanently cropped land.
  • Protection of crop losses/yield reduction: Weeds reduce yield of dry land crops by 37–79%. Herbicides provided both an economic and labour benefit.
  • Vector disease control: Insecticides are often the only practical way to control the insects that spread deadly diseases such as malaria.
  • Quality of food: A diet containing fresh fruit and vegetables far outweigh potential risks from eating very low residues of pesticides in crops. Eating fruit and vegetables regularly reduces the risk of many cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic diseases.
  • Other areas: The transport sector makes extensive use of pesticides, particularly herbicides. Herbicides and insecticides are used to maintain the turf on sports pitches, cricket grounds and golf courses. Insecticides protect buildings and other wooden structures from damage by termites and wood-boring insects.

 

Hazards of Pesticides

  • There is now overwhelming evidence that some of these chemicals do pose a potential risk to humans and other life forms and unwanted side effects to the environment
  • Direct impact on human
    • The high risk groups exposed to pesticides include production workers, formulators, sprayers, mixers, loaders and agricultural farm workers.
    • During manufacture and formulation, the possibility of hazards may be higher because the processes involved are not risk free.
    • OC compounds could pollute the tissues of virtually every life form on the earth, the air, the lakes and the oceans, the fishes that live in them and the birds that feed on the fishes.
    • Low-dose exposure to certain environmental chemicals, including pesticides termed as endocrine disruptors are linked to human health effects such as immune suppression, hormone disruption, diminished intelligence, reproductive abnormalities and cancer.
  • Impact through food commodities
    • In India the first report of poisoning due to pesticides was from Kerala in 1958, where over 100 people died after consuming wheat flour contaminated with parathion (Karunakaran, 1958).
  • Impact on environment
    • Pesticides can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation.
    • In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants.
    • Insecticides are generally the most acutely toxic class of pesticides, but herbicides can also pose risks to non-target organisms.
    • Pesticide sprays can directly hit non-target vegetation, or can drift or volatilize from the treated area and contaminate air, soil, and non-target plants.
  • Effect on soil fertility
    • Heavy treatment of soil with pesticides can cause populations of beneficial soil microorganisms to decline.
    • If we lose both bacteria and fungi, then the soil degrades.
    • Overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides have effects on the soil organisms that are similar to human overuse of antibiotics.

 

Challenges in banning the pesticides

  • Food security can be adversely impacted with reduction in productivity.
  • There is pressure from the fertilizer industry that the government is unable to take a decision to ban the entire 66 pesticides.

 

Government initiatives

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is implementing a program for “Monitoring of Pesticide Residues at National Level” (MPRNL) under which samples of agriculture commodities are collected and analyzed for the presence of pesticide residues.
  • Central Integrated Pest Management Centres (CIPMCs) under the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare conduct Farmers Field Schools to sensitize farmers regarding safe and judicious use of pesticides, use of bio-pesticides etc.
  • A ‘Grow Safe Food’ campaign has also been initiated carrying the message of safe and judicious use of pesticides to farmers and other stakeholders.
  • Under Soil Health Management Scheme, financial assistance is provided to States for imparting training and demonstration to farmers on balanced use of fertilizers.
  • The Government is encouraging establishment of Bio-fertilizer units by providing financial assistance to State Governments.

 

Way forward

  • Our efforts should include investigations of outbreaks and accidental exposure to pesticides, correlation studies, cohort analyses, prospective studies and randomised trials of intervention procedures.
  • Valuable information can be collected by monitoring the end product of human exposure in the form of residue levels in body fluids and tissues of the general population.
  • Education and training of workers is a major vehicle to ensure a safe use of pesticides.

About CNG & H-CNG

About CNG & H-CNG

  • CNG is compressed natural gas. With natural gas mainly composed of methane, CNG emits less air pollutants — carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter — than petrol or diesel.
  • H-CNG is a blend of hydrogen and CNG, the ideal hydrogen concentration being 18%. Compared to conventional CNG, use of H-CNG can reduce emission of carbon monoxide up to 70%, besides enabling up to 5% savings in fuel.

 

Advantages of the shift from CNG to H-CNG

  • The most promising aspect of this technology is that it will allow for the utilisation of the existing infrastructure of CNG — buses as well as the piping network and dispensing station.
  • Hydrogen has a unique property of extremely lean burning: ƒ
    • Extends lean misfire limit of CNG engines.ƒ
    • Lean burn results in lower combustion peak temperature which reduces NOx emissions (upto 50% with 20% HCNG).ƒ
  • Improves thermal efficiency Using H2 as an additive to CNG provides: ƒ
    • Lower risk due to very low energy content from H2 ‐safety properties similar to CNG.
    • Nearly commercial technology to start using hydrogen
    • No major Engine modifications required ƒ
    • Increased Nox emissions in Cities can be mitigated by supplementing CNG with hydrogen.ƒ
    • For lower blends existing CNG infrastructure can be utilized for using hydrogen without taking the risk of huge investment in creating the infrastructure.

 

Challenges

  • The gas storage system may be impacted if the hydrogen concentration goes up.
  • Some “minor engine optimisation” is needed to make existing buses H-CNG-ready as it will involve “high temperature combustion”. Existing buses need not be replaced.
  • Delhi’s public transport includes autos and cars, but these would not be able to use H-CNG with the prevailing technology, mainly because hydrogen is “highly volatile” and the possibility of a rise in combustion temperature.
  • Physical blending of CNG and hydrogen involves a series of energy-intensive steps that would make H-CNG more expensive than CNG.
  • Addition of Hydrogen with CNG results in reduction of net energy content of the mixed fuel ‐ 20% H2 in CNG results in 14.4 % reduction in mixture energy content.

 

Way forward

  • Mass production of the fuel will further lower the cost.
  • The costs are not prohibitive and if further work can be done to reduce NOX emissions, then this approach – an intermediate hydrogen technology approach can be scaled up and implemented across the full bus fleet in the city within 2-3 years.
  • IOCL’s research & development wing has developed a technology that does away with the need for physical blending.
  • Its ‘Compact Reforming Process’ directly produces a hydrogen-CNG mixture from natural gas, using a single step.
  • The cost of production is significantly lower than physical blending.
  • Cost can be reduced by innovative hydrogen production technologies in future.
  • India has an ambitious plan to have one million hydrogen fuelled vehicles by 2020 mostly two and three-wheelers. Hence, it should be promoted as the fuel of the future.

 

About EPCA

  • The Central government constituted an authority- The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the National Capital Region under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • The Authority has the following powers and functions for protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution:
    • Standards for the quality of the environment in its various aspects.
    • Standards for omission or discharge of environmental pollutants from various sources.
    • Restriction of areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards.
    • Procedures and safeguards for the prevention of accidents which may cause environmental pollution and remedial measures for such accidents.
    • Procedures and safeguards for the handling of hazardous substances.

Major causes of Forest fires:

Major causes of Forest fires:

  • Forest fires can occur because of both natural and man-made causes.
  • Man-made causes contribute to 99% of forest fires in India. They are:
    • Attempts to encroach upon forest lands to convert them into agricultural land.
    • Fire caused by poachers and timber smugglers to destroy evidence of illegal activities.
    • Burning of waste in illegal dumps.
    • Shifting cultivation practice by the locals.
    • Tourist activities like camp-fire etc.

What needs to be done?

  • Better monitoring of reserve forest areas.
  • Keeping a close watch on fire-prone spots.
  • Increase the current staff strength and train them according to the needs of the terrain.

Impact of Forest Fires:

  • Loss of life.
  • Changes to wildlife habitats.
  • Fire changes the proportion, arrangement and characteristic of habitats across the landscape.
  • Temporary loss of food and shelter causes displacement of territorial birds and mammals, upsetting the ecological balance.
Section : Environment & Ecology

About Belize reef

About Belize reef

  • Stretching from the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula all the way to Guatemala and Honduras, the reef includes 380 km in the waters off Belize, the portion covered by World Heritage status
  • It is the second largest after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
  • It spans 96,000 hectares (237,220 acres) and is home to one of the largest ecosystems in the Atlantic.
  • Belize’s waters are a haven for 1,400 kinds of plants and animals, including rare marine turtles, rays, bonnethead sharks and dolphins.
  • More than half of the country’s population, around 190,000 people, are supported by incomes generated through tourism and fisheries directly dependent on the reef.
  • The site also encompassed mangroves that help protect the reef and serve as a breeding ground for many of the hundreds of fish species that inhabit the area

 

 

Threats to Mesoamerican reefs

As part of the larger Mesoamerican coral reef, The Belize Barrier Reef is facing many of the same health problems as other reefs in the world.

Climate Change

  • The rising water temperatures brought about by El Niño type events have triggered massive coral bleaching.
  • As a result there has been a 80% reduction in live coral cover on some portions of the reef over the last two decades.

Increased Tourism

  • With 240 miles (386 km) of coastline to the east of Belize, their biggest tourist attractions are the islands and the incredible array of dive and snorkeling sites surrounding them.

Unchecked Fishing

  • Of the entire Mesoamerican reef, the central Belize Barrier Reef has suffered the most.
  • Illegal fishing practices such as Jamaican traps have decimated the population of parrotfish, juvenile fish, and other non-edible species.
  • While this type of fishing is illegal, the central reef area is not patrolled effectively.

Oil Development

Hurricanes

  • As part of the Hurricane belt, Belize is vulnerable to a constant threat of serious storms which seem to be becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change.
  • The continued destruction of the reef by hurricane means there’s no buffer for tidal waves, and coastal erosion becomes an issue affecting mangrove forests—a necessary part of overall coral reef health.

 

Rhino population and Poaching patterns in Kaziranga:

Rhino population and Poaching patterns in Kaziranga:

Till 20th century:

  • Kaziranga lost over 500 rhinos in the last two decades of the twentieth century.

Start of the new Millenium:

  • The situation improved in the new millennium when an average annual loss to poaching came down to single digit by 2006.
  • The park reported a healthy population of 1,855 rhinos in 2006.
  • However, a curious pattern of increased poaching immediately after the results to the State (2006 and 2011) and Central elections (2009 and 2014), points to possible political patronage to poachers in exchange for political work.
  • As a result, poaching increased after 2006.

After 2006:

  • Poaching made a comeback after 2006, and between 2009 and 2015, at least 170 rhinos were poached.
  • However, the conservation efforts also showed results, with Kaziranga reporting the biggest jump in rhino numbers.
  • From 1,855 in 2006, the population swelled to 2,401 in 2015.

Grip on poaching since 2016:

  • The part reported only 27 cases since 2016, and only nine since 2017.

 

Reasons for fall in poaching

Insiders attribute the recent drop in poaching to two factors:

  1. Check on informers who have gone rogue:
  • The civil administration uses informers to control poaching.
  • However, they apparently turned hostile, and in connivance with their controllers, they were shielding poachers in return for big protection money.
  • They have now been reined in by the anti-poaching enforcers.
  1. Breaking of political patronage to the poachers:
  • Earlier, the political leaders offered political patronage to monetise Kaziranga’s rhinos in exchange for various electoral services.
  • The present government is said to have broken this patronage, and the efforts are showing results.

 

Putting a complete stop to poaching is not easy:

Kaziranga and its rhinos still remain very much in the grip of both commercial and political interests. The poaching won’t be easy to end due to following reasons:

  • Easy to poach:
    • Rhinos are said to be far easier to poach than animals like tigers and elephants, and far more valuable.
  • Highly valuable:
    • A carton of horns fetches as much as a carload of tiger derivatives or elephant tusks.
    • Naturally, poaching syndicates will not give up easily.
  • Ever-changing smuggling routes:
    • The operators have switched route to ferrying consignments from the Dimapur-Kohima-Imphal to another route through Arunachal Pradesh along the northern boundary of Assam and then down to Nagaland.
    • Some are also active on a third route through Silchar.
    • A few have recently shifted focus to North Bengal as well.
  • Involvement of insurgent groups:
    • Local insurgent groups have found it easy to use Rhino horns to strike cashless arms deals with operators in Myanmar.
    • The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) is said to have wiped out the rhino population in Burachapori forests, while the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) is said to have emptied the Manas National Park.
    • More recently, a number of former militants, along with members of the Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers and Kuki People’s Army targeted Kaziranga’s rhinos.
    • Local Islamist groups such as the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam have also started targeting the Rhinos.
  • Involvement of Bangladeshi groups:
    • Harkat-Ul-Jihad-al-Islami and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh have also jumped in.
  • Local population unhappy with killing of poachers:
    • Local population around Kaziranga consists of mostly tribals and Muslims, which is also home to many poachers.
    • Violent eviction drives against encroachers are also common.
    • Since the late 1960s, hundreds of alleged poachers have been gunned down.
    • In 2010, Assam extended legal protection against prosecution to staff who kill poachers, after which number of poachers killed increased manifold.
    • There are allegations that many killings of poachers are in fact staged murders.
    • The killing spree did not have the desired effect as poaching scaled an all-time high by 2013-14.
  • Alienation of the minorities:
    • The anti-migrant rhetoric against alleged Bangladeshis is alleged to have displeased the minorities.
    • There are also allegations that of selective compensation to only the Hindus among the evicted.
    • These are said to have alienated the minority population in villages around the park.
    • Winning over hostile locals would be helpful:
      • While the park management has every reason to guard against the hostile neighbours, their hostility is a huge liability in anti-poaching efforts.
      • Winning their support over time can be the best insurance against poaching.
Section : Environment & Ecology

About National Moth Week

About National Moth Week

  • National Moth Week is a global citizen science project focusing on moths.
  • The first National Moth Week took place in July 2012.
  • National Moth Week celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths.
  • “Moth-ers” of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods.
  • National Moth Week is being held, worldwide, during the last full week of July.
  • NMW offers everyone, everywhere a unique opportunity to become a Citizen Scientist and contribute scientific data about moths.
  • Through partnerships with major online biological data depositories, NMW participants can help map moth distribution and provide needed information on other life history aspects around the globe.

 

Background

  • Scientific contributions by non-professionals are well documented, particularly in fields of study where observation is important
  • Moth biodiversity is remarkably high as these insects are one of the most successful lineages of organisms on earth
  • Global climate change and habitat destruction create an urgency to map moth species’ distributions and describe their phenology
  • Until recently, resources for moth identification were limited to highly technical manuals and journals.
  • This provides an excellent opportunity for non-professional citizen scientists to make meaningful scientific contributions about moths.
  • National Moth Week provides a global venue for these efforts by creating a platform focused on awareness, appreciation and data collection of moths.

 

About Moths

  • Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.
  • Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species.
  • Moths belong to phylum of arthropods (Arthropoda).
  • Butterflies and moths have 120,000 species, out of which moth is estimated between 150,000 to more than 500,000 species.
  • India is home to more than 10,000 moth species, including the large and flamboyant Indian moon moth Actias selene.
  • As an important food sources for many animals, moths can be indicators of ecosystem health.

 

 

Importance of Moth

  • They are a major part of our biodiversity and play vital roles in the ecosystem, affecting many other types of wildlife.
  • Both adult moths and their caterpillars are food for a wide variety of wildlife, including other insects, spiders, frogs, toads, lizards, shrews, hedgehogs, bats and birds.
  • Night-flying adult moths form a major part of the diet of bats.
  • Many birds eat both adult moths and their caterpillars, but the caterpillars are especially important for feeding the young.
  • Moth caterpillars have a great impact on plants by eating their leaves.
  • Moths also benefit plants by pollinating flowers while feeding on their nectar, and so help in seed production.
  • This not only benefits wild plants but also many of our food crops, which depend on moths as well as other insects to ensure a good harvest.
  • Moths also play a vital role in telling us about the health of our environment, like the canary in the coalmine.
  • Since they are so widespread and found in so many different habitats, and are so sensitive to changes, moths are particularly useful as indicator species.
  • Monitoring their numbers and ranges can give us vital clues to changes in our own environment, such as the effects of new farming practices, pesticides, air pollution and climate change.

 

Reason behind diversity

  • If diversification is a measure of evolutionary success, the arthropods are unmatched.
  • One characteristic of insects has been central to their success: the way they cope with the change in body size as they grow.
  • Usually baby animals are smaller than adults.
  • As a result a tiny baby cannot feed themselves.
  • Mammals solve that problem by supplying milk to infants and providing parental care until the young animal has grown large enough to feed and take care of itself.
  • Many insects have a different way of solving the problem by a process called metamorphosis.

 

Metamorphosis

The life history of insects is divided into three completely different stages

  1. An egg hatches into a larva, which looks completely different from an adult. A caterpillar is the larval stage of a butterfly or moth. A larva’s job is to eat and grow large enough to enter the next life stage, the pupa.
  1. pupa is covered by a case, and inside that covering the body structures of the larva are broken down to molecules and then reassembled into the adult form. This rebuilding process is called metamorphosis.
  1. When the adult form hatches from the pupa, it is at its full size. Insects do not grow after they emerge from their pupae. For this reason, some adults do not even eat. Rather than eating and growing, the job of an adult insect is reproduction.

 

 

Section : Environment & Ecology

About Bhitarkanika mangrove conservation area

About Bhitarkanika mangrove conservation area

  • Bhitarkanika is a unique habitat of Mangrove Forests criss-crossed with numerous creeks and mud flats located in Kendrapara district of Orissa.
  • It is one of the largest Mangrove Eco systems in India,Bhitarkanika is home to diverse flora and fauna.
  • The Bhitarkanika mangrove conservation area comprises of Bhitarkanika National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary and Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary approximating around 3000 km2 area of which around 4.8% (145 km2 ) area has mangrove cover.
  • Bhitarkanikais located in the estuary of Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra& Mahanadi river systems.
  • Bhitarkanika, one of the State’s finest biodiversity hotspots, receives close to one lakh visitors every year. The tourist inflow has seen an increase lately.
  • The park is famous for its green mangroves, migratory birds, turtles, estuarine crocodiles and countless creeks.
  • It is said to house 70% of the country’s estuarine or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.
  • In 1999 when coastal Odisha was battered by Super Cyclone, the rich mangrove forests had then acted as a bio-shield.
  • There was very little impact of the cyclone in the mangrove-forested regions.

 

Flora and Fauna

  • This deltaic, estuarine-mangrove wetland system, harbours the highest diversity of Indian mangrove flora, the largest known rookery of the olive ridley sea-turtles in the world, the last of the three remaining population of salt-water crocodiles in India, the largest known population of king cobra, one of the largest heronry along the east coast of India and one of the highest concentration of migratory waterfowls – both ducks and waders.

 

About Mangroves in India

  • A mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal salineor brackish water.
  • The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species.
  • Mangroves occur worldwide in the tropicsand subtropics, mainly between latitudes 25° N and 25° S.
  • Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees, also called halophytes, and are adapted to life in harsh coastal conditions.
  • They contain a complex salt filtration system and complex rootsystem to cope with salt water immersion and wave action.
  • They are adapted to the low oxygen (anoxic) conditions of waterlogged mud.
  • As per the ISFR 2017 report, the total area of mangrove cover of India is 4921 km2, which contributes 3.3% to the global mangrove cover.
  • The deltas of the Ganges, Mahanadi, Krishna, Godavari, and Kaveririvers contain mangrove forests in India.

 

Challenges in protecting the wetland

  • The loss of mangrove of Bhitarkanika is mainly due to human encroachment and reclamation of land for agriculture and unsustainable resources use practices such as aquaculture activities.
  • Around 307 villages having 1.5 lakh people depend for fuel, fodder and other non-timber forest produce from the Bhitarkanika mangrove ecosystem.
  • Recent development activities such as construction of jetties, roads and the proposal of a major port at Dhamra threaten the existence of this ecosystem.
  • Declaration of the mangrove forests of Bhitarkanika as a Protected Area has affected the local people living around this forest due to lost access of their life support systems.
  • On the other hand the unsustainable resource use in the area is a major threat to continued existence of it.
  • The resulting scenario is one of conflicts between the forest department and the local people, fueled by the man animal conflict.

 

Way forward

  • Eco-development initiatives: Eco-development seeks to conserve biodiversity through economic development of local people and by developing alternatives to forest resources, thereby weaning them away from dependence on forests.
  • Reducing dependency of people: It is crucial to address the dependence of the local communities on the PA resources. It can be done through income generation programs/schemes.
  • Involving local people in tourism: It is imperative to involve local communities in tourism by training them as guides. This will provide employment for the local population and will give them a sense of responsibility.
  • Develop an effective public awareness program: Sustainability of conservation management approaches will depend on awareness of the values of conservation being perceived by local communities, governments and other stakeholders. Environmental awareness is a powerful tool for gaining support for conservation.
  • Integrated conservation planning:Integrated coastal zone management has been endorsed but there is a need of the legal and institutional frameworks necessary for this purpose.
  • Authorities can do the following:
    • Set standards and objectives for the integrated management of the Bhitarkanika Conservation Area as a single unit and determine the cost of achieving these objectives.
    • Establish a process of cooperation and collaboration among various stakeholders in theBhitarkanika Conservation Area.
    • Collect and collate existing information on physical, biotic, and socioeconomic characteristics of the Bhitarkanika Conservation Area.
    • Identify status and trends of landscape level processes and functions within the Bhitarkanika Conservation Area.
    • Identify current and future landscape disturbance regimes that are affecting or may affect the ecosystem.
    • Select the best among a number of development alternatives by identifying costly and environmentally unstainable effects of the possible alternative projects.
    • Establish a series of strategies, with timetables and benchmarks with detailed financial goals and budget projections, as well as criteria and methods for evaluating progress towards meeting the established goals.
    • Prioritize strategies and specific actions to carry out required policy and legal changes and monitoring of compliance at regular intervals.
  • For effective conservation and management of the Bhitarkanika Conservation Area, it is important to go beyond protection measures for certain areas, habitats or landscape features, and impose binding requirements for coordination of sectoral policies at the scale of an ecological unit.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Distinction between OBCs and SCs

Distinction between OBCs and SCs

  • The yardsticks for recognising specific castes as SC and OBC are distinct.
  • While extreme social, educational and economic backwardness are common qualifications for both groups, SCs draw such backwardness from untouchability.
  • For OBCs, apart from social, educational and economic backwardness, lack of adequate representation in government posts and services is a criterion.
  • The positive rights guaranteed under the Constitution to SCs are to correct the historical wrongs of untouchability, and critics argue that addition of other castes in the group dilutes that guarantee.

 

Constitutional Provisions

  • The name ‘Scheduled Caste’ derives from the fact that this is annexed as a Schedule to the Constitution.
  • The Constitution of India provides certain privileges/concessions to the members of Scheduled Castes which are notified under the provisions of Article 341 of the Constitution.
  • The first list of Scheduled Castes in relation to a State or Union Territory is to be issued by a notified Order of the President after having consultation with the State Government concerned.
  • Any subsequent inclusion in or exclusion from the list of Scheduled Castes can be effected through an Act of Parliament as envisaged under clause (2) of Article 341.
  • Process: The State governments first propose to modify the Schedule. Only proposals agreed by both the Registrar General of India and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes are introduced as a Bill in Parliament. This procedure was adopted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 1999 and was amended in 2002.
  • A similar provision exists for Scheduled Tribes under Article 342.

 

Impact

  • These 17 castes are socially most backward, and many survive on small occupations in rural areas. For example, Nishads earn from fishing and Kumhars from making earthen pots.
  • According to an estimate by the UP Backward Classes Welfare Department, these 17 castes make up around 15% of the state’s population. A caste in the SC list gets more government benefits than one in the OBC list.
  • Also, since the OBC population is large, there is close competition among OBC groups for reservation benefits. If these 17 castes are moved to the list of SCs, it will leave greater space in the OBC quota for the remaining OBC caste groups.
  • However, SC groups fear that such a move might impact their quota as the new entrants will consume their share if the reservation limit is not expanded.

About Dhole

About Dhole

  • The dhole is a canidnative to Central, South and Southeast Asia.
  • Other English names for the species include Asiatic wild dog, Indian wild dog, whistling dog, red dog, and mountain wolf.
  • The dhole is a highly social animal, living in large clans without rigid dominance hierarchies and containing multiple breeding females.
  • Such clans usually consist of 12 individuals, but groups of over 40 are known.
  • It is a diurnal pack hunter which preferentially targets medium and large sized ungulates.
  • In tropical forests, the dhole competes with tigersand leopards, targeting somewhat different prey species, but still with substantial dietary overlap.
  • It is listed as Endangeredby the IUCN as populations are decreasing and are estimated at fewer than 2,500 adults.
  • At present, only 949 to 2,215 mature dholes survive in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • Native: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand.
  • Possibly extinct: Viet Nam
  • Regionally extinct: Afghanistan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Republic of; Kyrgyzstan; Mongolia; Russian Federation; Singapore; Tajikistan; Uzbekistan.

 

 

 

Dholes in India:

  • Dholes occur in several regions of India, and undoubtedly contains the largest numbers of Dholes.
  • Though Dholes have disappeared from 60% of their historic range in India during the past 100 years, relatively high populations of Dholes are still found in the Western Ghats and central Indian forests, due to high prey numbers and extent of protected forests, whereas lower numbers of Dholes are found in the Eastern Ghats.
  • Dholes are also found in the northeastern states, although numbers are low and decreasing in this region due to a decreasing prey base and retaliatory killings from livestock predation.
  • Dholes are found in some areas of Terai region in northern India, although their exact distribution there is unknown.
  • In the Himalayan region, Dholes were recently reported from Sikkim, and in 2008 near TsoKar in Ladakh, thus they may occur in other areas of Ladakh as well.

 

Importance of Dholes

  • Because of the charisma of tigers, this species is completely ignored, even though it has a very important role.
  • The species is the key in cleansing weaker genes in nature by predating on them.
  • The species helps in reducing the biotic pressure on a patch of forest, as, wherever it goes, certain species of predators flee, giving a breather to many other species of flora and fauna.

 

Protection

  • It is included in CITES – Appendix II (2013).
  • Dholes are legally protected in the countries where they occur.
  • It is listed as Endangeredby the IUCN.
  • The dhole is protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • The creation of reserves under Project Tiger provided some protection for dhole populations sympatric with tigers.
  • In 2014, the Indian government sanctioned its first dhole conservation breeding centre at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP) in Visakhapatnam.

 

Major threats

  • Depletion of prey base: This may be the single greatest factor that contributed to the range collapse of Dholes in the northern half of their former distribution, and might be the primary factor for the continued decline of Dholes in the southern half of their distribution.
  • Habitat loss and transformation: Habitat loss and degradation are serious threats to Dholes in southern Asia, particularly because this threat is closely associated with prey depletion and high levels of human disturbance.
  • Persecution: Persecution of Dholes stems mainly from retaliatory killings due to livestock predation, and this factor is driving some Dhole populations towards local extinction. Dholes appear to be especially susceptible to poisoning of carcasses using strychnine or other rodenticides, which often are readily available to rural people in southern Asia.
  • Disease and pathogens: Dholes are susceptible to rabies, canine distemper, canine parvovirus and sarcoptic mange among others, which are usually contracted from domestic village dogs that act as reservoirs.
  • Competition with other species: Aside from humans, the main competitors of Dholes for limited resources are Tigers and Leopards.

 

Way forward

  • Both Project Tiger and Project Elephant in India have the potential to conserve populations of Dholes and their prey in areas where they coexist with tigers and elephants.
  • However, Dholes require up to five times the land area as tigers to maintain viable long-term populations. Thus, relatively large (>750 km2) reserves in India might be the most effective for conserving Dhole populations.
  • Currently little is known about the species and ecologists are either dependent on the information based on decades-old research or from conclusions drawn from the African Wild Dogs, which are the closest relatives of the dholes.
  • More research is needed on Dholes to better understand their ecology and assist conservation efforts, which includes
    • Develop cost-effective surveys to determine the abundance of Dholes, as data on Dhole numbers would allow us to better understand their conservation status.
    • Determine the area and prey requirements needed to maintain a viable Dhole population.
    • Investigate the effects of disease on Dhole population dynamics.
    • Investigate effects of Dholes on ecosystems, specifically their interactions with other large carnivores, and their impacts on prey and smaller carnivores.
Section : Environment & Ecology
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