KERALA

KSBB to launch campaign for conservation

Help of local self-government institutions to be sought

The Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) is preparing to launch a campaign highlighting the need to prevent the destruction of plants during sanitation drives taken up by local self-government institutions.

Board chairman R.V. Varma told The Hindu that directions would be communicated to local bodies to sensitise workers engaged for projects taken up under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) . The communication would be routed through Biodiversity Management Committees.

At a meeting of the board here last week, it was pointed out that workers engaged to clear roadsides off undergrowth, were cutting down plants indiscriminately. This, the meeting observed, was impacting on micro-level biodiversity.

Members said the tendency to mow down plants was seen during sanitation drives taken up by the local bodies. Dr.Varma said a large number of medicinal herbs used in traditional preparations for primary health care were being destroyed in this manner.

“That is why we have decided to bring the local bodies on board by educating them about the need to conserve endemic species that are easily identifiable. We also hope to empower BMCs by involving them in this effort to create awareness.”

Campaign

The board has also decided to launch a major awareness campaign against biopiracy and unauthorised import of biological resources. Dr. Varma said the campaign targeting tourists would focus on the three international airports in Kerala and the Kochi seaport.

The last meeting of the board had urged the government for heightened vigilance against attempts to smuggle out flora and fauna using tourists.

“The recent attempt to smuggle out a consignment of red sandal to China through the Kochi port is a case in point,” says Dr.Varma.

The meeting had also proposed the inclusion of taxonomy experts in the Emigration division of airports and seaports to identify biological material. “Considering the acute shortage of taxonomists, we have decided to write to Customs and Emigration officials, asking them to keep a sharp lookout for specimens being smuggled out, especially dried plants.”

The KSBB will put up posters and install electronic display boards in the vicinity of airports and seaports, highlighting the provisions of the Biodiversity Act and rules governing the export of flora and fauna. The board had recently opposed an attempt by the Kudumbasree Mission to export 300 Malabari goats to Australia.

The KSBB will also urge the officials to ensure quarantine of flora and fauna being brought in, and report to it on any unauthorised import. “This is being done to check the influence of alien invasive species on our local biological resources,” Dr.Varma said.

The board meeting observed that tourists staying in forest areas were often exploiting biological wealth. It highlighted the need for panchayats and the BMCs to keep tabs on the activities of tourists.



MGNREGS workers to be sensitised to biodiversity issues

Board to launch awareness campaign against biopiracy


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