The threat of extinction looms large over Telangana’s biodiversity due to invasive terrestrial and aquatic species which have been endagering the survival of many flora and fauna here.
Species including the Small Indian Civet, Mouse Deer, Barking Deer, Indian Flying Squirrel and Golden Gecko are on the threatened and endangered species list.
The Telangana State Biodiversity Board (TSBB) has listed about 25 flowering plants, 12 fishes, nine reptiles, one amphibian, 27 birds and 23 animals as species invading the ecosystems.
Among the aquatic invasive species are Red Bellied Pacu, African Cat Fish, Sucker Mouth Catfish and Water Hyacinth to be invasive. The terrestrial invasive species include foreign species like the Lantana, Parthenium and the Billygoat weed.
The TSBB, a National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) State unit, is yet to take action even though the Central Biodiversity Act was passed way back in 2002. “We have already wasted 20 years, lets not waste another 20 over the implemention of the draft plan,” cried Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) court of governors chairperson and former Union Home Secretary K. Padmanabhaiah in a recent workshop.
The wheels have been set in motion with the TSBB entrusting ASCI’s autonomous body —Centre for Innovations in Policy Systems (CIPS)— with the preparation of a strategic action plan to create a comprehensive data bank of the existing biodiversity and come out with a programme to enhance preservation work.
Biodiversity Management Committees
The formation of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) with TS having 538 mandal-level, 12,749 gram-panchayat-level, 130-municipality level and 13 municipal corporation level committees has marked the beginning of the plan execution.
Across India, there are 2,43,499 BMCs and 95,252 People’s Biodiversity Registers created with more than 20% of geographic land brought under “some kind of protection and conservation effort”, according to CIPS advisor, biodiversity and forestry, S. Bala Subramanyam.
The BMCs role is to prepare biodiversity registers with active participation of people, voluntary organisations and others, identifying new conservation areas, and undertaking capacity building of all stakeholders. But, they are hamstrung in the absence of a proper strategy.
A proper strategy needs to be dovetailed with the national action plan coming out next year to take the campaign ahead. “We do not have a proper road map for preserving our biodiversity and accessing funds has been a challenge,” admitted NBA secretary Justin Mohan.
“Much time has been lost but now we have begun to prepare for the action plan in consultation with various stakeholders to identify and manage biodiversity-rich areas.””C. Achalender ReddyCIPS Director
CIPS Director C. Achalender Reddy admitted, “Much time has been lost but now we have begun to prepare for the action plan in consultation with various stakeholders to identify and manage biodiversity-rich areas.”
TSBB Secretary Kalicharan S. Khartade said that once the action plan suggesting the best practices is in place, it won’t be difficult to source funds either from the government or the private sector for making biodiversity conservation a way of life.
Bioconservation success stories
Mr. Bala Subramanyam said endangered species in the country include Hyena, common otter, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Lesser Flamingo, Spot billed Pelican, Grey headed Fish eagle, etc. There have also been major milestones achieved in biodiversity conservation in India.
Saving ‘Kadamba’ (Neolamarckia cadamba trees) which house the greater adjutant storks in Assam, increasing the number of One-horned rhino which were on the brink of extinction to 2,400 now, increasing floral and faunal species to 48,655 and 100,693, respectively, as against 3,655 floral and 1,693 faunal species in the past three decades.
The protected area coverage in the country has increased to 5.03% in 2021 from 4.90% in 2014. The number of wetlands have increased to 47 covering 10,90,230 hectares and 10 beaches in seven states and one Union Territory conferred with the prestigious blue flag certification.
The roadmap for NBA and state bodies is to restore and enhance agro-biodiversity, conservation of indigenous crop varieties, registration of indigenous breeds, species restoration after forest restoration, organising awareness programmes and so on.