Saving Mother Nature from ourselves

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Source: The post is based on an article “Saving mother nature from ourselves” published in the Indian Express on 28th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Ecology and Environment

Relevance: Biodiversity Conservation

News: Recently, World Nature Conservation Day was celebrated on July 28. It seeks to highlight the need to work for a healthy planet by preserving our environment and protecting our natural resources.

Why do we need preserve and protect the environment?

The global biodiversity is under all-round threat due to human’s exploitation of natural resources continues unchecked. For example, the exploitation has led to a situation where about 25% of species face the threat of extinction.

(1) There has been climate change which has led to irreversible changes in ecosystems around. It has led to disruption in ecological balance.

(2) There are sudden changes in weather patterns causing heat waves, ocean warming, diminishing amounts of snow and ice, melting glaciers, forest fires and floods.

(3) There is conversion of forests to agricultural land, overgrazing, poor forest management, invasive infrastructure development including the ill-planned expansion of urban settlements, mining and oil exploitation, anthropogenic forest fires and pollution, have impacted forest biological diversity.

The loss of the earth’s original forest cover is as high as 45 per cent over the last 8,000 years.  As per the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), about 13mn hectares of the world’s forests are lost due to deforestation each year.

What should be the scope of conservation?

The idea of conservation encompasses various facets of nature including flora and fauna, energy resources, soil, water and air.

The protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures are the key drivers of biodiversity conservation.

Indian Perspective on Conservation and ecological balance

Nature forms the cornerstone of the cosmic vision of Indian civilization. The Vedas, Upanishads, etc. have taught us the worship of the divine in the elements like in rivers, mountains, lakes, animals, birds, flora, as also stars and planets.

Indian scriptures mention worship of fire, water and air as agni, jal and vayu, the sun as Surya deva, earth as Bhu devi, etc.

The Prithvi Sukta in Atharva Veda serves to remind us of our relationship with nature: mata bhumih putroham prithiyah (The earth is my mother and I am her son).

What are the conservation measures take so far?

Global Level

The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement have set goals and targets for transition to low-emission economies.

Indian Level

India is a member of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People which was initiated at the “One Planet Summit” in 2021. Therefore, India is committed to work proactively to protect at least 30% of our lands, waters and oceans, and adhere to its commitment of 30×30 by 2030.

A 75-day-long awareness campaign, “Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar”, was launched. It has to cover 75 beaches across the country.

The Indian government has banned the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified single-use plastic items with low utility and high littering potential from July 1, 2022.

In their joint report, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Economics for Land Degradation Initiative have urged the G-20 nations to step up to their roles as powerful leaders against climate change.

What should be done?

Conservation is the only hope for protecting the future of the planet, and the future of the succeeding generations. It can contribute to sustainable livelihoods, climate change mitigation, food and water security and reduces the threat of natural disasters.

There is a need to go back to our roots. This will help us achieve the targets of the post-2020 of the UN’s Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and realise the 2050 vision of “living in harmony with nature”.

The decisive actions must be taken with respect to energy, industry, land, transport and urban planning.

The saying, vruksho rakshati rakshitah (protect trees and they will protect you), should be our guiding mantra.

The climate targets and sustainable development targets should be integrated into national policies and decision-making frameworks at the local levels.

If mankind has to survive, we have to recognise the role of protection and conservation to maintain the pristine nature of biodiverse ecosystems.

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