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Need for Community based Conservation of Biodiversity in India

  • Published
    23rd May, 2022
Context

The most recent Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019) estimates around one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction.

  • Community based conservation must be promoted, although authorities consider them as a threat.
  • May 22 is celebrated as ‘International Biodiversity Day’.
Background
  • Community-based conservationis a conservation movement that emerged in the 1980s, in response to escalating protests and subsequent dialogue with local communities affected by international attempts to protect the biodiversity of the earth.
  • These contentions were a reaction against traditional 'top down' conservation practices, whereby governments or large organisations exert control at a local level, which were perceived as disregarding the interests of local inhabitants. 
  • This conservation strategy was used widely until the 1970s when indigenous people started to fight for their rights and land.
  • In 1975 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Parks Congress recognized the rights of indigenous people and to recognize their rights of the protected areas.

Present scenario

  • India assigned terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine environments adding up to around 17 per cent of its geographical area for conservation, and committed to the global 30×30 initiative which aims to protect 30 per cent of the planet by the year 2030.
  • Concerns have been raised worldwide about the 30×30 initiative, criticising the focus on protected areas that will likely result in the eviction of vulnerable people, including tribals, and local communities, and lead to the loss of access to natural resources.
  • The creation of protected areas has long been perceived as ‘fortress conservation’, in which local peoples are perceived as a threat and excluded or have limited access.
  • Hence, the practice often results in negative perceptions of conservation efforts that limit their success as well as reduce human well-being. 

About

Community-based conservation

  • The objective of community-based conservation is to actively involve and give some control to members of local communities in conservation efforts which may affect them, and incorporate improvement to the lives of local people while conserving areas through the creation of national parks or wildlife refuges.
  • Strategy: One strategy of community-based conservation is co-management or joint management of a protected area.
  • Co-management combines local peoples’ traditional knowledge of the environment with modern scientific knowledge of scientists.
  • This combination of knowledge can lead to increased biodiversity and better management of the protected area.

Advantages

  • It is known to be more successful method as it involves a larger number of stakeholders.
  • The approach ensures the sustainable use of biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods for the local community as well as access to natural resources.
  • Locals are open to the practice, so CBC can be used to mitigate the alarming rate of environmental destruction and depreciation that is occurring as the result of anthropogenic activities including excessive tourism, massive resource exploitation, increased urbanisation, and ineffective environmental policies.

Success story in Northeast states

  • Community-based conservation is an accepted approach in India, especially in the northeast states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura.
    • The majority of CBCs in the region were co-managed, in which the government, respective non-governments, conservationists, local community, and / or individuals had joined forces to coordinate the projects.
  • It helped to generate awareness about sensitive areas and conservation methods and helped in ecosystem regeneration while providing better and easier access to natural resources including local vegetation and water.
  • The CBCs also aided livelihoods in the form of skill development training and employment in ecotourism initiatives and protected areas, empowered women financially and socially, motivated environmental stewardship.
  • It controlled environmental damage such as soil erosion and landslides, as well as provided benefits in the form of health camps, schools, water filters, crop-protection committees, animal vaccinations, and eco-development committees.
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