There are 3 categories of reasons for conservation.
a. Narrowly utilitarian arguments
- Human derive economic benefits from nature such as food, firewood, fibre, construction material, industrial products (tannins, lubricants, dyes, resins, perfumes) and medicines.
- More than 25% of the drugs are derived from plants.
- 25,000 species of plants have medicinal value.
b. Broadly utilitarian arguments
Biodiversity has many ecosystem services. E.g.
· Amazon forest (‘lung of the planet’) produces 20% of total O2 in the earth’s atmosphere.
· Pollination through bees, bumblebees, birds and bats.
· Aesthetic pleasures.
c. Ethical arguments
· Every species has an intrinsic value. We have a moral duty to care for their well-being.
Biodiversity conservation is 2 types: In situ (on site) conservation and Ex situ (off site) conservation.
a. In situ conservation (on site)
It is the conservation of genetic resources within natural or human-made ecosystems in which they occur. E.g. Protected areas such as National Parks, Sanctuaries, Biosphere reserves, cultural landscapes, natural monuments etc.
· National Park: Strictly reserved for the welfare of the wildlife where private ownership, cultivation, grazing etc. are prohibited. E.g. Eravikulam National Park in Kerala.
· Sanctuary: Here, protection is given only to the animals. Collection of timbers, minor forest products and private ownership are allowed so long as they do not harm the animals. E.g. Periyar wildlife sanctuary in Kerala.
· Biosphere Reserves: Areas of land or coastal ecosystems for conservation and sustainable use.
· Sacred forests (Sacred groves): Forest fragments which are communally protected based on religious beliefs. E.g.
o Sacred groves in Khasi & Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya.
o Aravalli Hills of Rajasthan.
o Western Ghat regions of Karnataka & Maharashtra.
o Sarguja, Chanda & Bastar areas (Madhya Pradesh).
India has 14 Biosphere Reserves, 90 National Parks and 448 wildlife sanctuaries.
b. Ex situ conservation (off site)
It is the conservation of organisms outside their habitats. E.g. genetic resource centres, zoological parks, wildlife safari parks, botanical gardens, gene banks, cryopreservation etc.
· These are the regions with very high species richness, high degree of endemism (species confined only to a specific region) but most threatened.
· There are 34 hotspots in the world.
· 3 hotspots cover India’s biodiversity regions- Western Ghats & Sri Lanka, Indo-Burma and Himalaya.
· All hotspots together cover only < 2% of the earth’s land area. But the species richness is extremely high. Protection of hotspots reduced the ongoing extinctions by 30%.
International Efforts for conserving biodiversity
· The Earth Summit or Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Jeneiro, 1992) - 3 objectives:
a. Conservation of biodiversity.
b. Sustainable use of biodiversity.
c. Sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
· The World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa, 2002): 190 countries pledged to reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss.