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International Biodiversity Day 2007 A Report

Session I(10:00 AM to 11:15AM) WELCOME ADDRESS

The International Day for Biological diversity was organized by the Uttar Pradesh Biodiversity Board. The theme for the conference was Biodiversity and Climate Change as announced by the Secretariat of the convention on Biological Diversity complementing the designation of the 2007 as the International Polar Year coinciding with the UNEP World Environment Day theme of Climate Change. The Conference provided a platform for experience sharing and brainstorming with the objective of ensuring a more scientific and sustainable strategy for the conversation of Biodiversity to improve our understanding of Climate Change and to preserve habitats of our by Wildlife.

The conference started by the welcome address by Mr. B. K. Patnaik, PCCF Uttar Pradesh. The PCCF emphasized on the linkage between the two. He said that India as a whole and the state of Uttar Pradesh in particular has good biodiversity, which is under tremendous pressure as a result of which it is decreasing steadily. Uttar Pradesh has one National park, many Bird sanctuaries and a newly added Ramsar Site. The state has taken keen interest in protection of endangered species. In fact the Saras Protection Society and Tiger Conservation society have been formed in the state.

The conference was inaugurated by Shri. Fateh Bahadur Singh honorable Minister of State for forest wild life. The Minister emphasized that the first priority of the government was to stop illicit felling and wildlife crime. He emphasized that forest officers would he given adequate resources for better forest offence management. He also focused on the forest department initiative to plant one crore plants on 31st July 2007, in a single day. No state in the country has planted one crore plants in the state in a single day. He was happy that green cover extension was being taken up on a war footing by the State Forest department. He said that the department should gear up to the new challenge and modify its working to the need of the hour. The honorable minister has also announced that a provision of Rs.5 Crore will set up for the conservation of the Biodiversity in the state. He stressed on the departments need to educate people about forestry and its working.

Prof. Kannaiyan, Chairman of the National Biodiversity Board was the special guest on the occasion. Other luminaries present on the occasion were the following:-

1- Sri Desh Depak Verma, ICUN, New Delhi, India.
2- Ms. Seema Wahab, Advisor Science and Technology, New Delhi.
3- Sri S.P.S Ahlawat, Director, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, New Delhi.
4- Sri Paul Verghese, TERI, New Delhi.
5- Sri Sujoy Banerjee, WWF, New Delhi.
6- Dr. Unni Krishanan, CTCRI, Trivendram.
7- Dr. Sudhansu Sinha, ICEF, New Delhi.

A beautiful exhibition of photographs on biodiversity conservation was also organized on the occasion.The prize winners were Dr. JS Murthy, Sh.Trilochan Singh, Shri Praveen Rao, Sandeep Rastogi and Deepak Ghosh.

A collection of poems on wildlife and Biodiversity conservation the Little Sparrow written by Shri Mohammed Ahsan , Chief Wildlife Warden was released on the occasion by the Forest Minister. A souvenir, which was a collection of about 28 articles written on the topic, was released on the occasion by the State forest minister.

Shri Kanniyan, Chairman National Biodiversity Authority Chennai presented to the audience the importance of traditional Knowledge in biodiversity conservation. The neem patent controversy and victory were also discussed. He also said that majority people were not fully aware about the act and presented an overview of the act, its effects.

Ms. Seema Wahab, Advisor, Science and Technology to the Government also made a presentation on the occasion. She said that we should focus on the threats posed by the global warming and the climate change.

The Principal Secretary Forests Mr. V. N. Garg at the onset welcomed all the speakers and guests and thanked them for showing such keen interest for the issue. He said that the purpose of the conference was to educate the people about the basics of Biodiversity conservation and to make people alert about the consequence of loss of biodiversity. He stated that Biodiversity is important for the survival of the human race, and it is under threat because of the mindless and unplanned development. The loss of biodiversity is due to the bad model of development which is indiscriminate in nature. This kind of development has caused change in the land use pattern and loss of the forest cover. The challenge before the Forest Department today is capacity building for Biodiversity management and the challenge of how to accurately measure and monitor loss of Biodiversity.

Dr. S. Kannaiyan stressed on the importance of interlinkages of water, oxygen and land. India is rich in biodiversity but the knowledge base is very poor and this needs to be strengthened. The traditional community whose way of life has been shaped by generations is unable to adopt the fast pace of life and their knowledge is also shrinking.

Shri Desh Deepak Verma, from IUCN spoke on India and the role of CBT for India. He started with Mahatma Gandhi ideals the World has enough for everyone need but not for everyone greed. This was followed by a short presentation . He outlined the important aspects of the Biodiversity Act 2002. He also highlighted the twin principles of Convention on Biodiversity as:

1. Conservation and sustainable use of Biodiversity,
2. Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from its utilization.

Secretary of the State Biodiversity Board, Shri Pawan Kumar said that UP was one among the 9 States in the country that have taken initiative to establish the State Biodiversity Board. It was formed on 20 th September, 2006. Specialist members were nominated in February 2007 and the first board meeting was held on 23 feb 2003. Various measures for management, survey, conservation and commercial use of biodiversity were discussed in the meeting. Six committees have been formed currently to study ethno-botanical concepts, Medicinal plants, agricultural plants and Sustainable sharing of benefits that come from biological resources. The objectives of this conference were clearly presented by Mr. Pawan Kumar, Special Secreatry, Forest. He focused on the need of the hour to formulate a strategy to counter the effects of the climate change. . He emphasized on the uniqueness and diversity of the natural resources in India. He also outlined the threats faced by the biodiversity today. He emphasized on the 2010 Biodiversity Targets and gave a brief overview of the same.

In the technical session in the afternoon, the participants and main speakers were SPS Ahlawat from Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Shri Unnikrishnan, from Central Tuber Crops Institute , Trivandrum, Sudhanshu Sinha from Indo Canadian Facility, New Delhi. Sujoy Bannerjee from WWF.

Directors of Local institutes from Lucknow like the Birbal Sahani institute, Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources and scientists from NBRI and CDRI also took part. Indian Forest Service officers of the State were present on the occasion and took active part in the technical sessions.

Technical session I

Shri. M. Unnikrishnan from CTCRI (Central Tuber Crop Research Institute), Thiruvanthapuram Biodiversity spoke on "Conservation for Protection of Environment and for Livelihood of Sustenance of Tribal and Rural Poor in India". The salient features of his lecture were on the Importance of Biodiversity in sustenance of livelihood of native people: In India there are over 550 native or tribal communities under 227 ethnic groups. There is a rich diversity in these groups also such as the primitive tribes of Jarwas, Ongies etc. They are totally dependent upon the natural resources of forest food like wild roots, tubers, wild fruits and fish. He also spoke on natural calamities like tsunami that affected vegetation due to seepage of saline water into fresh water sources as in the case of Car Nicobar islands.

Mr. SPS Ahlawat, Director, I.V.R.I. dealt in length about the need for conserving Animal biodiversity of our country and spoke on "Conservation of Animal Biodiversity". India is a biological paradise for fauna and flora having 6.13 % of world total animal biodiversity. India is 6th among 12 Mega biodiversity centers. Indian cattle account for 7.75%, Buffalos 26.39%, Sheep 6.41%, Goat 8.26%, Pig 0.85%, Ass 3.9%,Horse 2.34%,Camel 14.29%,Poultry 2,97% of world Population. However the populations of Cattle, Donkey, Horses, Mules, camels, Ducks etc are continuously decreasing due to variety of reasons, there by, our country is gradually losing its rich animal Biodiversity, and it should be a matter of grave concern to all of us.

The possible reasons for the losses in Animal biodiversity in India are due to:

Replacement of Indigenous breeds by imported one or crossbreds.
Restricted use to a few breeds.
Degradation of ecosystem
Disease and natural disasters
Fluctuating market requirements
Political unrest and instability
Non-implementation of animal breeding policies

Indian breeds that are showing declining trends are

Amongst Cattle the breeds which are showing declining trends are-- Vechur, Punganur, Red Sindhi, Sahiwal, Krishna Valley , Amritmahal, Hariana, Nagouri

Amongst Buffalos Wild Asiatic buffalo, Toda, Bhadawari, Nili-Ravi are the breeds which are showing declining trends

Similarly in Sheep--Karnah, Gurej, Poonchi, Bhakarwal, Nilgiri, Pugal, Changthangi, Chokla, Hisardale etc varities; Jamunapari, Beetal, Surti, Changthangi breeds of Goats; Zanskari, Spiti, Marwari, Kathiawari, Bhutia breeds of Horses are continuously declining

In his talk he dealt in detail about breeds of various animals like cattle, Buffalos, Sheep, Goats, Camels, Horses, Yaks, Mithun and Poultry. According to him amongst Buffalo breeds of Uttar Pradesh Bhadawari breed is famous for highest fat percentage in Milk and Bhadawari breed is known for highest fat percentage in Milk. Similarly amongst Sheep of Uttar Pradesh Muzafarnagri breed is the tallest sheep breed of India and Jalauni sheep is a hardy sheep breed. The best Goat breeds are Barbari-one of the best dual purpose goat breed and Jamunapari- best milch goat of South East Asia hail from Uttar Pradesh. He presented his suggestions on how to conserve this Animal Biodiversity.

Tecnhical session II

The session was graced by Dr. S. Kannaiyan who presented the salient features of The Biodiversity Act 2002. The main focus of the Act is on conservation of biodiversity, Protection and rehabilitation of the threatened species, involvement of Government for implementation of the Biodiversity Act, protection of India rich biodiversity and provision for notifying of heritage sites. The discussions were focused on the various provisions for the protection of biodiversity, and cases of the conflicting provisions. This was recorded and the chair suggested that the ministry should come out with guidelines to address this issue.

Shri Desh Deepak Verma in his second address dealt with the different provisions of Biodiversity Act 2002 in length, especially on measures related to Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and associated Traditional Knowledge (TK), (2) from the concerns emanating from the on-going erosion of Biodiversity and new developments in Biotechnology and (3) in the conditions where in challenges related to bio-piracy, IPRs and patents are in plethora. The speaker in his deliberations stressed upon the need for establishment of State Biodiversity Boards, Biodiversity Management Committees at local level under the different provisions of the Biodiversity Act 2002.

He mentioned about the duties of State and Central Governments, punishments, IPR and Access and benefit sharing mechanisms etc in great detail and summed up his speech by stressing upon need to harmonize between different domestic provisions; and need to harmonize with WTO and TRIPs.

A brief presentation was made by Sujoy Bannerjee from WWF, India and Sudhanshu Sinha from the Indo Canadian Facility.

The conference ended with a vote of thanks being proposed by Special secretary Forests, shri Pawan Kumar.

As far as we can tell, our planet is the only place in the black immensities of the universe where life exists. We are alone in space. And the continued existence of life on this planet now rests in our hands.
--David Attenborough