UPSC Current Affairs / “Fierce but Fragile, Coexistence in a changing world”/Hindu
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“Fierce but Fragile, Coexistence in a changing world”/Hindu
A report released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has warned that the big cats are still not out of danger due to shrinking forest land which are converted into motorways and other infrastructure that cut through their habitat.
The report also identified human-wildlife conflict as a key problem in the Terai regions of of India and Nepal, stressing on well-developed conservation programmes.
India is home to nearly 70 per cent of the world’s big cats in the wild. According to the latest 2014 census, the country has 2,226 tigers in the wild across the country, a 30 per cent in increase over the 2010 estimation of 1,706 tigers. There are about 3,890 tigers in the wild across the world as against more than one lakh in 1900.
IUCN says its Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) aims to ensure the survival of tigers in the wild by working with local communities to reduce human-tiger conflict and the over-exploitation of forests, as well as managing tiger habitats and combating poaching.
Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme
Supported by the German Government, the German Development Bank (KfW) and IUCN launched the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) in 2014. ITHCP is a strategic funding mechanism which aims to save tigers in the wild, their habitats and to support human populations in key locations throughout Asia. The programme contributes to the international goal set up during the 2010 St- Petersburg Tiger Summit to double wild tiger populations by 2022. IUCN, the programme implementing agency.
ITHCP has a current portfolio of 8 projects located within Tiger Conservation Landscapes (TCLs), which are areas universally considered as the most crucial for long term tiger conservation.
These projects involve improving the management of tiger habitats, tackling human-tiger conflicts, increasing anti-poaching and law enforcement efforts and engaging and actively involving local communities in tiger conservation. An average 26 % of project funds is dedicated to infrastructural investments and 13 % of project budgets is to provide local communities with sustainable livelihoods, e.g. with clean energy sources, predator-proof protection systems and development of ecotourism ventures.
The Terai “low-lying land at the foot of the Himalayas”, stretches from Corbett NP in the West until Kaziranga NP in the East, throughout India, Nepal and Bhutan, is a focal area of the programme.
Global Tiger Recovery Program
The overarching goal adopted in the Hua Hin Declaration and supported by the GTRP is to reverse the rapid decline of wild tigers and to strive to double the number of wild tigers across their range by 2022. The GTRP was launched by heads of governments at the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010.
The objectives of the GTRP are
ð Effectively manage, preserve, protect, and enhance tiger habitats;
ð Eradicate poaching, smuggling, and illegal trade of tigers, their parts, and derivatives;
ð Cooperate in transboundary landscape management and in combating illegal trade;
ð Engage with indigenous and local communities;
ð Increase the effectiveness of tiger and habitat management;
ð Explore and mobilize domestic and new funding; and
ð Bring back tigers to their former range.
Financial Needs and Mechanisms
TRCs plan to explore and mobilize new and domestic funding, including from such sources as new financing based on forest carbon financing including REDD+, payment for ecosystem services schemes, promotion of ecotourism, and private sector, donor, and NGO partnerships.
Biosphere Reserves (BRs) are representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof and representative examples of bio-geographic zones/provinces.
Criteria for designation of BR
Ø A site that must contain an effectively protected and
minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation.
minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation.
Ø The core area should be typical of a bio-geographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels in the ecosystem.
Ø The management authority to ensure the involvement/cooperation of local communities to bring variety of knowledge and experiences to link biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development while managing and containing the conflicts.
Ø Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment.
International Status of Biosphere Reserves (BR)
The UNESCO has introduced the designation ‘Biosphere Reserve’ for natural areas to minimize conflict between development and conservation. BRs are nominated by national government which meet a minimal set of criteria and adhere to minimal set of conditions for inclusion in the world network of Biosphere reserves under the Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme of UNESCO. Globally 621 BRs representing from 117 countries included in the network so far.
The concept of Biosphere Reserves, especially its zonation, into Core Area(s) ( dedicated to conservation), Buffer Area(s) (sustainable use) and Transition Area(s) (equitable sharing of benefits) were later broadly adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD ) process which entered into force on 29th December, 1993.
Structure and functions of BR:
Biosphere reserves are demarcated into following 3 inter-related zones:
Core zone must contain suitable habitat for numerous plant and animal species, including higher order predators and may contain centres of endemism. Core areas often conserve the wild relatives of economic species and also represent important genetic reservoirs having exceptional scientific interest. A core zone being National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Whilst realizing that perturbation is an ingredient of ecosystem functioning, the core zone is to be kept free from l human pressures external to the system.
The buffer zone, adjoins or surrounds core zone, uses and activities are managed in this area in the ways that help in protection of core zone in its natural condition. These uses and activities include restoration, demonstration sites for enhancing value addition to the resources, limited recreation, tourism, fishing, grazing, etc; which are permitted to reduce its effect on core zone. Research and educational activities are to be encouraged. Human activities, if natural within BR, are likely to continue if these do not adversely affect the ecological diversity.
The transition area is the outermost part of a biosphere reserve. This is usually not delimited one and is a zone of cooperation where conservation knowledge and management skills are applied and uses are managed in harmony with the purpose of the biosphere reserve. This includes settlements, crop lands, managed forests and area for intensive recreation and other economic uses characteristics of the region.
What are the current efforts being made to save the tiger?
India is home to 70 per cent of global tiger population. Therefore, the country has an important role to play in tiger conservation. The Government of India started ‘Project Tiger’ in 1972 with a view to conserving the animal. As part of this project nine core buffer areas for maintaining tiger population were notified. Now, this has expanded to 48 tiger reserves.
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
Besides protecting tiger territory, other measures being taken to save the tiger include: curbing wildlife trade through international agreements. CITES is an international agreement between governments aimed at ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants, including tigers, does not threaten their survival. India ratified this treaty in 1976.
Global Tiger Forum (inter-governmental tiger conservation network)
Established in 1994, the Global Tiger Forum is the only inter-governmental body for tiger conservation. Its membership includes seven tiger range countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal and Vietnam. International NGO members consist of World Wildlife Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and TRAFFIC. Several national NGOs from India and Nepal are also members.
Created in 1948, IUCN has evolved into the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network. It harnesses the experience, resources and reach of its 1,300 Member organisations and the input of some 16,000 experts. IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. Our experts are organised into six commissions dedicated to species survival, environmental law, protected areas, social and economic policy, ecosystem management, and education and communication.
How does IUCN work?
IUCN governance is by a Council elected by member organizations every four years at the IUCN World Conservation Congress- the general assembly of the Union’s members. The Council is comprised of the Chairs of IUCN’s six Commissions, three Regional Councilors from each of IUCN’s eight Statutory Regions, and a Councilor from the State in which IUCN has its seat (Switzerland). IUCN congresses have produced several key international environmental agreements including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the World Heritage Convention, and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands
It is the only organisation being the observer in UN general assembly with experts in environment and sustainable development. It also runs field project to create awareness about the environment. the head office of IUCN located in Gland Switzerland.
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