Environmentalists rue loss of biodiversity

8 species of flora, 5 of fauna nearing extinction in Punjab

Environmentalists rue loss of biodiversity

Environmentalists gather at a biodiversity spot in Ludhiana. file photo

Minna Zutshi
Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, June 5

As World Environment Day, with its theme ‘Celebrate Biodiversity’, is being observed today, environmentalists rue the loss of biodiversity that is closely linked to the loss of traditional knowledge.

Eight species of flora and five species of fauna are nearing extinction in Punjab. The once-common white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis) is critically endangered in Schedule I since 2000. Another endangered species is Indus River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica). Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) is another vulnerable bird species. Indian Rock Python (Python molurus) and Indian Roofed Turtle (Kachuga tecta) are also endangered.

Among the endangered trees is ‘Seem’ tree (Tecomella undulata), an economically and pharmaceutically important tree.

The major threats to biodiversity in Punjab are focus on HYVs and exotic breeds and infestation of invasive alien plant species, besides habitat destruction and degradation, said Gurharminder Singh, Senior Scientific Officer, Dept of Environment and Climate Change, who also has the additional charge of the Punjab Biodiversity Board (PBB), while talking to The Tribune.

Other threats to biodiversity include environmental pollution, climate change and unsustainable developmental model and urbanisation. Lack of coordination among various departments is also accelerating the decline in biodiversity.

People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBRs)

People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBRs) document local flora and fauna. To check the declining biodiversity in the state, the Punjab Biodiversity Board has facilitated the constitution of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) at the local levels.

An important mandate of the Biodiversity Management Committees is preparation of People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBRs) for documenting the local flora and fauna. The Department of Rural Development and Panchayat and the Department of Local Government are supposed to facilitate the preparation of the People’s Biodiversity Registers as per the guidelines of the National Biodiversity Authority.

“The PBRs are techno-legal documents that effectively document how each plant is used in our culture. These are the baseline documents for us to devise micro-level planning. Our focus is on conservation and management keeping in view the native and the local,” says Gurharminder Singh.

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