Other States

Efforts to create Thar biosphere reserve stepped up

Camels rest on sand dunes over the Thar Desert in Rajasthan.  

The exercise to create a much-awaited biosphere reserve in western Rajasthan’s Thar desert has been stepped up with the support of UNESCO, which has assured to provide funds and technical help for protecting the rare fauna in the region. The project may be included shortly in UNESCO’s flagship Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme.

The climate variability in Thar desert is based on the stretches of sand, which are interspersed with hillocks and sandy and gravel plains. Environmentalists believe that this arid region’s vegetation, human culture and animal life are very diverse in comparison with other deserts in the world because of its varied habitat and ecosystem.

The biosphere reserve project formulated by the State government’s Forest Department has laid emphasis on the conservation of biodiversity and desert ecology as well as the participation of local communities in the conservation efforts. In addition to the protection of unique natural features, the people'’s livelihood will be strengthened in the reserve.

Principal Forest and Environment Secretary Sreya Guha said here that the project, based on the vision for protection of natural resources as well the local communities, would not put any restrictions on the daily lives of people

. The exercise has been continuing since 1988, when a task force was appointed for preparing the project document.

The latest proposal has been prepared in association with the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur, covering the aspects of conservation of flora and fauna and preservation of the desert ecosystem.

MAB programme

UNESCO country head Eric Falt, who was on a visit to Jaipur recently, indicated that the biosphere project could be included in the U.N. body’s MAB Programme, which seeks to enhance the relationship between people and their environments. The programme strengthens the correlation between natural ecosystem and socio-economic processes in the context of biological and cultural diversity.

Rajasthan’s Chief Wildlife Warden Arindam Tomar said the biosphere reserve would require allocation of adequate resources for protection of biodiversity, ecosystem and land features. Efforts were being made to protect the endangered species of great Indian bustards, desert cats, chinkaras, vultures and other birds, he said.

Tourism and Wildlife Society of India’s honorary secretary Harsh Vardhan said the biosphere reserve would serve its purpose if the grasslands on vast tracts were developed for grazing of animals, as their neglect and conversion into irrigated and cultivated land would further endanger the rare species. This aspect was neglected even in the Desert National Park established near Jaisalmer and Barmer, he said.

Changing ecology

Amid the changing ecology, several species of migratory birds have started arriving in western Rajasthan earlier than the winter season this year. The water bodies in the region have witnessed the arrival of birds in small groups from Central Asia, which is an indication of the substantial man-induced alterations in the microclimate.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 1:06:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/efforts-to-create-thar-biosphere-reserve-stepped-up/article36579477.ece

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