Heed ‘nature’s call’

If one is talking about living organisms in water and forest, elders would often get nostalgic on how abundant they were in the past – the magnitude depending on how old the conversant is.

One listen to such narratives with a healthy dose of cynicism, but they are not entirely wrong – that the bio-diversity of the earth is rapidly diminishing o wiping out many species over the years and having a grave implications for the future.

There have been alarm bells to correct the trend over the years, but loudest and most ominous was the first-ever Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The state of the planet’s biodiversity, according to the report released on May 6, is “declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.

The extinction rate is more than before in human history, the assessment report stated. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world,” said Josef Settele (Germany) who co-chaired the assessment. The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is termed as the first-ever such comprehensive report taking three years for a group of 145 expert authors from 50 countries.

They poured more than 15,000 scientific and government documents and the implications are scary. For example, productivity in 23 per cent of global land has reduced due to land degradation and up to $577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection. This decline would continue till 2050, it added. Some of the usual suspects are the loss of habitat, pollution and human activities.

Nagaland is considered a biodiversity hotspot and her flora, among others, is represented by about 2,431 species, according to a government’s data. There are over thousand species of orchids in India and Nagaland alone has about 360 orchid species, it noted adding that there are about 71 bamboo species, 12 cane species and 41 allied species, 346 lichens and 103 Red Data Plants. The faunal diversity includes about 67 common wild animals, 519 bird species and 149 fish species and a number of reptiles and amphibians.

However, if one assess the current situation, the picture is grim. To cite a very simple but profound example, most of the state’s populace must not have seen the two most important birds in the state- the Hornbill and Blyth’s Tragopan, the State bird of Nagaland.

The preservation of bio-diversity, thus, is paramount. It is reported that Germany will provide a grant of up to €6.5 million for the period of 2019 – 2026 to safeguard biodiversity conservation in selected Community Conserved Areas (CCAs). Improving the living conditions and income of the local population in peripheral areas of protective forests is also inclusive of the plan. The project will covers 12 CCAs, around 70 villages and 6 districts in Nagaland and launched on April 30. It is a welcome move, and the onus lies on the government and all the stakeholders to look into the judicious and result oriented use of the funds.

Even as there are organizations taking up such initiatives to safeguard the biodiversity, there is a need for strong political will and community alertness towards preservation of the biodiversity. The alarming threat to biodiversity as witnessed in the recent past calls for a more calculative and responsible exploitation of the resources. It is important to understand that development should not be at the cost of severe exploitations of natural resources. It is always prudent to heed to ‘nature’s call’ – literally and figuratively.