COVID-19: Our solutions are in nature

Biodiversity conservation is not a static measure but response to many threats upon natural habitats.

May 22 of every year is known as International Biodiversity day. This year will commemorate as first ever online campaign due to Covid19 with the theme “Our solutions are in nature”. It is about solidarity and the importance of working together at all levels to build a future of life in harmony with nature. It was sanctioned by United Nations to increase the awareness and understanding of biodiversity issues. It falls within the scope of the United Nations post 2015 Development Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals. It was recognised in a Rio + 20 outcome document, “The world we want: A future for all”.

As for India it was enacted by the Parliament of India for the preservation of biological diversity in India, and provides mechanism for equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of traditional biological resources and knowledge. The Act was enacted to meet the obligations under Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to which India is a party. And, for Manipur, it is said that Manipur is rich in biodiversity. Among the four hotspots in India i.e. Eastern Himalayas, Western Himalayas, Western Ghats, Indo-Burma Region and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Manipur falls under Indo Burma Region and the valley is endowed with rich biodiversity and endemism.

Biodiversity is important to both local and global scales as there is interdependence from the primary level to the top level. It is said that more than 1.5 million known species living on earth according to IUCN (2004) and numerous unknown species also exist. With many Extinct, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Vulnerable, Lower Risk, and Threatened species conservation priorities have made accordingly. It is found that highest biodiversity exits at equator and lowest in the higher latitudes. There are five major extinction recently occurred  Currently, our planet is experiencing the Holocene extinction or Anthropocene extinction due to human interference excessively. Increasing number of human population every hierarchical level, that is, genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity are being threatened. Over-exploitation, climatic change, pollution etc are believed to be the main cause of biodiversity losses. Biodiversity is comprised of ecosystem and ecological processes and all species of plants, animals, microorganisms and vast arrays of species with their suitable habitat.

Conservation of biodiversity with strategic planning processes are being implemented on different species. For instances, in situ conservation that include hot spot and protected area which benefits genetic diversity, native species, subspecies, resilience of species, habitat or species to adapt to environmental change, controlling human exploitation on exotic species. And, ex situ conservation which is the conservation of selected rare plants and animals that include offsite conservation and gene banks.

If we look into the conservation of biodiversity in Manipur Keibul Lamjao National park, where one of the conservation of the rare species Brow Antlered deer locally known as Sangai and the two other wildlife sanctuaries namely, Khongjaingmaba Ching Wildlife Sanctuary and Yangoupokpi-Lokchao Wildlife Sanctury. There are other rare species exist in Manipur which needs to be conserved at utmost level. The Shiroi Lily of Ukhrul , Dzuko Lily etc Manipur which are the rare flower which do not grow in any other places should be conserved under strict vigilance. It is a good idea that promoting and spreading awareness of the rare species every year with a big festival grabbing attention to many tourists will surely benefit a lot in that particular area and the state. But, at the same time, it is also important to conserve the seasonal flower before any interference occurs or fallen prey to some irresponsible tourists apart from climate change, environmental degradation etc. Littering around is a common habit even if there are volunteers available.

As there is no specific area or no fencing around the flower there is also high chances of stepping on the plants by the visitors. It is the same for the Sangai too as they both are the state flower and animal. The newly found Horned Frog of Tamenglong and Salamander of Ukhrul which was reported recently should also be conserved. Before they turn towards critically endangered it is important to save the rare species. Like many other conservation of biodiversity, aquatic conservation is also another conservation method. Aquatic species are an also at higher risk of extinction. Apart from air and water pollution, sedimentation and erosion, and climate change, over fishing, diversion of water for irrigation and many other human activities have become a threat to its habitat and the species. Many people criticised about the blooming business of aquarium. But, it is also doing no good if the natural habitats of the aquatic species are in danger due to many unwanted reasons and human exploitations. It better to conserve them in well man made ecosystem like aquarium, zoological park and botanical garden or any closed artificial ecosystem in a healthy and balanced way than to make them suffer in a poisonous system even if it is their natural habitat. There are also many organisations for conservation of biodiversity with conservation strategies support to preserve habitats and ecosystem.

In one incident a child asked me why those men are cutting down trees. Why aren’t they planting other tree in replacement of the previous one? There will be no place for birds to build their nest? Where will they live? To these questions I had no answer to reply because what we had studied in books seem remain in book when it comes to practicality or reality. Biodiversity conservation is not a static measure but response to many threats upon natural habitats. For sure, many biodiversity conservation organisations will succeed in their approach in saving the other species which are inclining towards extinction. We cannot be selfish towards those that species coexist with us.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own)

First Published:May 21, 2020, 11:44 p.m.