Critical Thinking

The Example:- The Western Ghats have a greater

The term
‘Biodiversity’ was introduced by an American Biologist Edward
Wilson.Biodiversity is that part of nature which includes the differences in
genes among the individuals of the species.  It represents the totality of genes, species,
and ecosystem of a given region.

The
biological diversity includes three inter-related hierarchical levels :

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Genetic
Diversity

Species
Diversity

Ecological
Diversity

GENETIC
DIVERSITY The
genetic variation existing within a species is called genetic diversity. The
variation may be in alleles, total genes or chromosome structures

SPECIES
DIVERSITY The
diversity at the species level is called species diversity. Example:- The
Western Ghats have a greater amphibian species diversity than the Eastern
Ghats. The species diversity depends upon the number and richness of the
species of a region. Species richness – The number of species per unit area.

ECOLOGICAL
DIVERSITY The
diversity at the ecosystem level is called ecological diversity. Example:
Deserts, rainforests, mangroves, coral reefs, wetlands, estuary and alpine
meadows etc.

Value
of Bio-diversity

Biodiversity
provides a variety of environmental services from its species and ecosystems
that are essential at the globe, regional and local levels. The production of
oxygen, reduction of carbon dioxide, maintenance of the water cycle and
protection of the soil are some important services.

It is
also important for preserving ecological processes, such as fixing and recycling
of nutrients, soil formation, circulation and cleansing of air and water. Food,
clothing, housing, energy, and medicines are all resources that are directly or
indirectly linked to the biological variety present in the biosphere. Tribal
communities depend on the forest for resources. For Agricultural communities,
biodiversity is used to grow crops. Urban communities also use the greatest
amount of goods and services which are drawn from natural ecosystems.

Thus
preservation of biodiversity is the integrated strategy that aims at improving
the quality of human life.

Consumable
Use: Example for
this is timber, food, fuelwood. The biodiversity in the ecosystem provide all
these goods.

Productive
Use: This
includes the marketable goods. The biotechnologist uses bio-rich areas for
potential genetic properties in plants and animals that can be used to develop
better varieties of crops for farming and plantation. To the pharmacist,
biological diversity is the raw material from which new drugs can make from plants
or animal products. To industrialists, biodiversity is a rich storehouse from
which to develop new products. For an agricultural scientist, the biodiversity
in the wild relatives of crop plants is the basis for developing better crops.

Social
Value:
Biodiversity has been preserved by traditional societies that valued it as a
resource and appreciated that its depletion would be the great loss to their
society. For example, many plants and animals are worshipped in India like
Tulsi, Peepal, Cow, Snake etc

Moral
Value: Moral
values in relation to biodiversity conservation is based on the importance of
protecting all forms of life. We do not have the right to destroy any life
rather the duty of ours is to protect life.

Aesthetic
Value: The
appreciation of the presence of biodiversity for its inherent value and beauty
as well as for the contribution it makes to our knowledge- our aesthetics,
imagination. Instead of killing wildlife for food, it is important as a tourist
attraction. Biodiversity is a beautiful and wonderful aspect of nature. Sitting
in a forest and listening to the birds or watching a spider weaving web is a
nice feeling.

India
as a nation of mega bio-diversity center

A
mega-diverse country is one that harbors the majority of the Earth’s species
and is therefore considered extremely biodiverse. India is rich in biodiversity
from north to south and from east to west. India is in the top of 10 or 15
countries for its great variety of plants and animals, many of which are not
found elsewhere. India has 350 different mammals, 1200 species of birds, 453
species of reptiles and 45000 plant species. India has 50000 species of insects
including 13000 butterflies and moths. The unknown species are several times
higher than this.

Besides
the high biodiversity in Indian wild plants and animals, there is also a great
diversity of cultivated crops and breeds of domestic livestock. There are 30000
to 50000 varieties of rice and a number of cereals, vegetables, and fruits. The
highest diversity of cultivars is concentrated in the high rainfall areas of
the Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, Northern Himalayas and Northeastern hills.
The mountain range in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura,
Mizoram and the Darjeeling hills are symbol of celestial splendor where a good
number of peaks rise well over 7000 m., the highest being the Kanchenjunga 8335
m which is very close to Mt. Everest, the world highest peak

All these
factors and much more are the reason behind why India is called a mega
biodiversity center and makes it one of the seventeen mega biodiversity
countries of the world.

Biodiversity
at national and local levels

Biodiversity
is the measure of the variety of earth’s animal, plant, and microbial species;
of genetic differences within species; and of the ecosystems that support the
species.

India has
over 108,276 species of bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals already
identified. In terms of the number of species, the insects alone constitute
nearly half of the biodiversity in India. In the world as a whole, 16, 04,000
species of Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia have been described
so far. However, it is estimated that at least 179, 80,000 species exist in the
world, but as a working figure 122, 50,000 species are considered to be near
reality.

India is
10th among the plant-rich countries of the world, fourth among the Asian
countries, eleventh according to the number of endemic species of higher
vertebrates (Amphibia, birds, and mammals), and tenth in the world as far as
richness in mammals is concerned.

Out of
the 10 ‘Hotspots’ identified in the world, India has four. These are Eastern
Himalaya, North East India, Western Ghats and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.The
crops which first grew in India and spread throughout the world include rice,
sugarcane, Asiatic vignas, jute, mango, citrus, and banana, several species of
millets, spices, medicinal, aromatics, and ornamentals. India ranks sixth among
the centers of diversity and origin in terms of agro-biodiversity.

Threats
to Bio-diversity

Loss
of habitat: Human
activities are causing a loss of biological diversity among animals and plants
globally estimated at 50 to 100 times the average rate. Tropical forests are
under threat largely from conversion to other land-uses, while coral reefs are
experiencing increasing levels of over-exploitation and pollution. If the
current rate of loss of tropical forests continues for the next 30 years.

Poaching
of wildlife:
Poaching means illegal hunting or killing of wildlife. The dead animals are of
large economic benefits. The skins and bones of the tiger, ivory of elephants,
horns of rhinos are largely used abroad. Corals and shells are collected for
exports and sold on the beaches of Chennai, Kanyakumari and Andaman and Nicobar
islands. A variety of wild plants are used for medical values.

Man
wildlife conflicts:
We generally lose the species because of the destruction of natural ecosystems,
either for conversion to agriculture or industry, or overuse of resources or
through pollution of air, water, and soil. The natural forests are deforested
for timber and replanted using teak, sal for their timber value. Such
monoculture plantations do not support the biological diversity.

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