Discuss why India‘s Western Ghats is considered as one of the world‘s biodiversity hotspots, the threats it is facing and recent measures taken to protect this biodiversity. (200 Words)
Western Ghats which spans over 1600 kilometers comprises more than 30 percent of the plants, mammal, birds and amphibian species found all over India. According to IUCN red list at least 325 globally endangered species are found in this area. This include flagship mammal species like lion tailed macaque, Asian elephant and tiger.
This region also has a sizable tribal population. UNESCO has declared 39 properties of Western Ghats as biodiversity hot spot region. Threats to biodiversity of western Ghats:
- Developmental activities like construction of dams, power projects, roads, Tourist resorts pose threats to its biodiversity e.g.: Gudia and Athirappilly Hydroelectric power projects affects Adar tribes, endemic species like cuckoo bee, lion tailed macaque, Nilgiri tahr.
- Western Ghats has rich iron ore, Bauxite and manganese deposits. Along with that presence of rivers like Tungabadra, Cauvery, Godavari and plant species like teak, sandal wood makes powerful presence of sand, timber and mining lobbies. This results in fragmentation and pollution.
- The mono culture practice like planting of eucalyptus by government and individuals for commercial purpose had resulted in deforestation.
- Fishing industry uses electricity, poison etc. for fishing which pollutes fresh water and harms species.
- Mining results in lowering of water table and affects water quality.
Several measures have been taken to protect this region:
- Gadgil report and Kasturirangan committee report seek to bring attention to vulnerability of this region. The demarcation of Ecologically Sensitive Areas, and regulating disruptive human activity is sought
- Extending limits of core zone regions for in-situ conservation efforts by converting wildlife sanctuaries to national parks, increasing boundaries of wild life sanctuaries, and buffer regions
- Closing operation of highways during hours in the night to protect wildlife through these regions
- Prohibiting use of exotic plant species in afforestation programs
The question of balancing the developmental needs of people living in these areas to access better livelihood facilities and the need for conserving nature and wildlife applies here. Greater involvement of local panchayats while pursuing conservation efforts is necessary to make the effort effective, holistic and long lasting.