Expansion of the protected area network
maintaining viable populations of species, whether plant or animal, is a crucial factor in biodiversity conservation and this requires the appropriate conservation of important ecosystems and habitats. Currently, the country has 88 national parks, and 490 sanctuaries. In 1988, Rodgers and Panwar conducted a comprehensive study in which they drew up plans for a protected area network to cover the range of biological diversity in the country. They suggested that the percentage of the country's area under the protected area network, which was then only 3.3%, be enhanced to 4.6%. The recent update of the Rodgers and Panwar ...view middle of the document...
The country's wildlife institutions need to network and coordinate their activities so that priority issues and areas are identified. The MoEF ( Ministry of Environment and Forests) through the Botanical Surveys of India and the Zoological Survey of India could play a guiding role by preparing a list of priority issues and areas for circulation to relevant institutions, based on a countrywide consultation of experts. Funding for these prioritized projects could be stepped up to ensure that research focuses on these issues. The MoEF must set up a database for the country as a whole.
Mapping of forest types, protected areas, and natural forests
It is important to generate maps of the protected areas of the country showing their contiguity with the existing reserve and protected forests. This will provide a way for determining possible corridors, habitat contiguity, and buffer zones and facilitate biodiversity conservation. Further, vegetation mapping according to forest types needs to be done for the entire country. The Forest Survey of India data need to show the disaggregated changes in area according to forest types and natural forest areas. Current data on canopy densities make it difficult to estimate the changes in area under dense, natural, or near-natural forests.
Improved protection efforts and a landscape approach to conservation
Owing to habitat fragmentation and consequent losses suffered by different populations, there is need for ensuring the safety of the biodiversity lying outside our protected areas. Population viability analyses for different species have revealed that the loss of even a single individual from a small isolated population could adversely affect the population structure and viability and push many species towards extinction. The need of the hour is a landscape approach to conservation where protected and non-protected areas are integrated through significant protection measures initiated at both the state and local community levels. This will include the following activities.
* Mapping the distribution of habitat types in the region as types of LSE (landscape elements) with the help of satellite imagery along with field surveys
* Establishing association of groups of species with different types of LSEs on the basis of field surveys
* Assessing rates of transformations of LSE types with the help of satellite imagery of earlier years, official records, and oral histories
* Assessing the threats to different species as a result of ongoing landscape changes and other causes like commercial harvests
* Assigning conservation priorities to species on the basis of threats to their populations, rarity, endemism, and taxonomic distinctiveness
* Assigning conservation priorities to different types of habitats or LSEs on the basis of richness and conservation significance of the threatened species they harbour
In situ conservation
Good management of the extant populations in the...