Category Archives: Env and Ecology

About Asiatic Lion, Asiatic Lion Conservation Project

Headline : Vet institute, ambulances mooted in lion conservation plan

Details :

The News

  • In a bid to step up conservation and protection efforts of critically endangered ‘Asiatic Lions, the Centre and the Gujarat government have announced a 3-year dedicated ‘Asiatic Lion Conservation Project’.

Background

About Asiatic Lions

  • Asiatic Lions are critically endangered species, listed in the Schedule 1 of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, Appendix I of CITES and endangered on IUCN Red List.
  • Asiatic lions were once distributed in dry deciduous forests and scrublands from West Bengal in east to Rewa, MP in the west.
  • Currently, the last surviving population of the Asiatic lions is confined to Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, which is the only habitat of the Asiatic lion.
  • According to 2015 census, there are currently 523 Asiatic lion in India compared to about 50 in 1980s.

Need for the conservation project

  • In the recent years, there is a rise in number of deaths of Asian Lions due to various unnatural causes.
  • According to estimates, the numbers of deaths of Asiatic Lions are 104 and 80 in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
  • The main reason for death of Asiatic lions:
    • Construction of open wells in their habitat
    • Electrocution
    • A viral disease known as Canine Distemper Disease. (a majority of deaths in 2018 are reported to be due to CDD)
  • Further, Asiatic Lions are long-neglected with low allocation in conservation plans; Rs. 95000/ lion as compared to 15 Lakh/ individual in case of tigers.

About Asiatic Lion Conservation Project

  • Asiatic Lion Conservation Project will be a 3-year centrally sponsored scheme funded from CSS-Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with centre-state contribution ratio of 60:40.
  • It focuses both on protection and conservation of the lion species.
  • It is mainly based on ‘species conservation over a large landscape” approach. Accordingly, Zone Plans and Theme Plans are developed.
  • Zone Plans include expansion of habitat and developing a Greater Gir region including Girnar, Pania and Mitiyala.
    • The Greater Gir region is then divided into Core Zone, the Sanctuary Zone, the buffer Zone for different levels of conservation.
  • Theme Plans include habitat improvement, protection, wildlife health service, addressing to man-wild animal conflict issues, research and monitoring, awareness generation, and ecotourism.

Main features of the project

  • Habitat improvement,
  • Bringing together multi-sectoral agencies for disease control.
  • Stepping up veterinary care by construction of veterinary hospitals
  • back-up stocks of vaccines that may be required
  • Increasing the number of lion ambulances.
  • ICT-driven monitoring and surveillance systems including
    • GPS Based Tracking
    • Automated Sensor Grid with magnetic sensors, movement sensors, infra-red heat sensors
    • Night vision capability enhancement
    • GIS based real time monitoring and reporting
  • A wildlife crime cell to step up protection
  • Creating a task force for the Greater Gir region
  • Establishment of additional water points

Section : Environment & Ecology

What impact will the thundershowers, hailstorm have on rabi crop?

Headline : What impact will the thundershowers, hailstorm have on rabi crop?

Details :

The topic

  • Recently, there was heavy rainfall and hailstorms in the many areas of northern India.
  • This articles assesses the impact of heavy rainfall and hailstorms on rabi crops.

Background

  • In early February, the National Capital Region, Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh and northern Madhya Pradesh witnessed heavy rainfall and hailstorms.
  • According to the Meteorological department, the source of the thundershowers was a fresh Western Disturbance. Further fresh Western Disturbance are also expected.
  • This will affect the Rabi crops in these regions.

About Rabi crops

  • ”Rabi” is an Arabic word for “spring”.
  • Harvesting of the winter crops happens in the springtime, thus these crops are called as Rabi crops.
  • The Rabi season usually starts in November and lasts up to March or April.
  • Rabi crops are mainly cultivated using irrigation as monsoon rains are already over by November.
  • Moreover, the unseasonal showers in winter seasons can ruin the crops.
  • Wheat, barley, mustard and green peas are some of the major Rabi crops of India and different crops require different climatic conditions. For example:
    • Wheat
      • It requires cool temperatures during its growing season in the range of about 14°c to 18°c.
      • Rainfall of about 50 cms to 90 cms is most ideal.
      • However, during harvesting season in the spring, wheat requires bright sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures.
    • Mustard
      • It requires a subtropical climate to grow which is a dry and cool climate.
      • The temperature range to grow mustard is between 10°c to 25°c.
    • Therefore, the heavy rainfall and hailstorms differently impact various Rabi crops based on various stages of crop production.

Assessment of impact of rainfall and hailstorms on different Rabi crops this season

Negative impact

  • Heavy rains during this period have negative impact on the mustard, chana (chickpea) and potato crops that are about to mature or in early-harvesting stage.
  • Mustards
    • This crop that is usually planted during the first half of October, and in early February would be in the pod-filling stage (the beginning of the last stage ripening), where the flowers and seeds have already taken shape and size.
    • The kernels would have been accumulating starch, fat and protein matter.
    • Hence, rains during this time can impact the yields negatively.
    • Moreover, if the rain continues, the environment will become helpful for fungal diseases such as sclerotinia stem rot and alternaria blight.
    • Such diseases could result in the premature ripening of the crop or the pods producing dry, shrinking or discoloured seeds.
    • The rains are more likely to damage early-sown crops, sown in the last week of September, which would have been ready for harvesting.
  • Other crops:
    • Many other Rabi crops are harvested during February-March like Chana, Masur (lentil), Potato, Jeera (cumin-seed) and Dhania (coriander).
    • These might already be in its final stages of grain-filling or ripening stages.
    • The risk of rainfall and hailstorm is more for such crops.
  • In the worst scenario, experts are predicting the repeat of conditions as was in March 2015, when the winter rainfall and hailstorm affected the total area of 182 lakh hectares in North, West and central India.

Positive impact

  • The positive impact of winter rainfall can be predicted for Wheat, as this crop is sown by mid-November and currently would be in the late-tillering stage, when it produces multiple side stems.
  • Only the wheat crops sown early in the end of October may get negatively affected.
  • In fact, rains will have following benefits for the timely or late-sown wheat crops-
  • It will provide additional round of irrigation to the crops.
  • It will reduce the temperatures and prolong the winter, which is good for yields.

Section : Economics

Char Dham highway project

Headline : Supreme Court clears 900km Char Dham highway project

Details :

In News

  • The Supreme Court has cleared the Chardham highway project, by modifying an NGT order.
  • It has also ordered to constitute a fresh committee to look into environmental concerns related to the project.
  • It ordered the Ministry of Environment and Forests to form the high-powered committee (HPC).

Background

  • After the project got approval, petitions were filed at the National Green Tribunal (NGT), seeking a stay on the Char Dham project. They said the project violated the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2006.
  • In September, 2018, the NGT gave its conditional approval to the project in view of larger public interest.
  • Some non-profit group had filed a petition against the NGT order in the Supreme Court saying the project would cause an irreversible damage to regional ecology.

News Summary

Supreme Court’s decision

  • Supreme Court has only modified the September NGT order by constituting a fresh high-powered committee (HPC).
  • In addition to this, the court added representatives from Physical Research Laboratory under the government’s Department of Space, Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, MoEF (from Dehradun regional office) and Defence Ministry to the HPC.
  • The top court asked the committee to submit its recommendations within four months.
  • The HPC shall hold quarterly meetings thereafter to ensure compliance and may suggest any further measures after each review meeting.

Committee’s mandate

  • The committee shall consider the cumulative and independent impact of the Chardham project on the entire Himalayan valleys.
  • It will give directions to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).
  • The committee will consider whether revision of the full Chardham project should take place with a view to minimize the adverse impact on the environment and social life.
  • It will identify the sites where quarrying has started and recommend measures required to stabilise the area and for safe disposal of muck.
  • It will also assess the environmental degradation – loss of forest lands, trees, green cover, water resources etc. – on the wildlife and will direct mitigation measures.
  • The HPC will also suggest the areas in which afforestation should be taken and the kind of saplings to be planted.

About: Char Dham Highway Project

  • The Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna, or the Chardham highway project, is an initiative to improve connectivity to the Char Dham pilgrimage centres (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath) in the Himalayas.
  • The Prime Minister had launched the construction of the Char Dham Mahamarg in December, 2016, as a tribute to those who died in the 2013 Kedarnath disaster. 
  • The project will develop around 900 km of national highways in Uttarakhand at an approximate cost of Rs 12,000 crore.
  • It involves widening the existing, geometrically deficient highway that connects the four abodes.
  • Apart from widening, it plans to improve the stretches to two-lane carriageway with paved shoulders, protect landslide hazard zones, construct bypasses, long bridges, tunnels and elevated corridors to ensure safety for the users.

Advantages

  • The project will make travel to Char Dham safer and more convenient. Connectivity & tourism will get a strong boost through the project.
  • Proper slope stabilisation will ensure protection against landslides.
  • The project is also important from a strategic point of view as it is close to the China border.
  • In the eventuality of any aggression, improved roads will facilitate movement of heavy weapons, equipments and artillery guns.

Concerns

  • It is an extremely fragile region. The area forms the Main Central Thrust of the Lesser Himalayan region. This is where the Indian tectonic plate goes under the Eurasian Tectonic Plate.
  • The phenomenon makes the region susceptible to earthquakes and landslides.
  • The Geological Survey of India corroborates this in its report prepared after the Kedarnath disaster.
  • It states that road construction in mountains reactivates landslides as it disturbs the toe of the natural slope of the hill.

About: Char Dham

  • Char Dham refers to the 4 pilgrimage centres – Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – in the Himalayas, in the state of Uttarakhand.

Badrinath

  • Badrinath or Badrinarayan Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and situated in the town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand.
  • The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks in Chamoli district along the banks of Alaknanda River.
  • The temple and town form one of the four Char Dham sites.
  • The temple is also one of the 108 Divya Desams, the holy shrines for Vaishnavites, dedicated to Vishnu (who is worshipped as Badrinath).
  • It is open for six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), because of extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region.

Kedarnath

  • Kedarnath Temple is a Hindu temple (shrine) dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva.
  • It is located in the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river, in Uttarakhand.
  • Kedarnath is seen as a homogenous form of Lord Shiva, the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region.
  • Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open to the general public only between the months of April (Akshaya Tritriya) and November (Kartik Purnima, the autumn full moon).

Gangotri

  • Gangotri is a town and a Nagar Panchayat (municipality) in Uttarkashi district in the state of Uttarakhand.
  • It is a Hindu pilgrim town on the banks of the river Bhagirathi and origin of River Ganges. It is on the Greater Himalayan Range, at a height of 3,100 metres.
  • According to popular Hindu legend, it was here that Goddess Ganga descended when Lord Shiva released the mighty river from the locks of his hair.
  • The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda.
  • The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is 19 kms from Gangotri. The temple is closed from Diwali every year and is reopened in May.

Yamunotri

  • Yamunotri Temple is situated in the western region of Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3,291 metres in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand.
  • River Yamuna originates at Yamunotri.
  • The temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna and has a black marble idol of the goddess.

Section : Environment & Ecology

IPCC Report: Climate Change and Land

Headline : Food supply is at dire risk: UN

Details :

In News

  • IPCC has released a new report on Climate Change and Land. It is the second in the series of three special reports that the IPCC is preparing during the current Sixth Assessment Report cycle.
  • This is the first IPCC report in which a majority of the authors (53%) are from developing countries.

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News Summary

  • The IPCC has released the summary of its report “Climate Change and Land: An IPCC Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems” to the policymakers.
  • It is an assessment of how land systems are contributing to global warming, and are in turn being impacted by the resultant climate change.
  • The report looks at the role of land-based activities such as agriculture, forestry, cattle-rearing and urbanisation in causing global warming, and also the manner in which they are impacted by climate change.

Report Findings

Land – a critical resource

  • Land provides the principal basis for human livelihoods and well-being including the supply of food, freshwater and multiple other ecosystem services, as well as biodiversity.
  • Human use directly affects more than 70% of the global, ice-free land surface (high confidence). Land also plays an important role in the climate system.
  • Land is both a source and a sink of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and plays a key role in the exchange of energy, water and aerosols between the land surface and atmosphere.

Impact

  • The report says the global food production system could account for 16 to 27 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • If outside the “farm gate” activities such as transportation, energy and food processing industries are included, emissions from global activities that put the food on our table could account for as high as 37 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
  • If emissions associated with pre- and post-production activities in the global food system are included, the emissions are estimated to be 21 to 37 per cent of total net anthropogenic (man-made) GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.

Desertification and land degradation

  • When land is degraded, it becomes less productive, restricting what can be grown and reducing the soil’s ability to absorb carbon.
  • This exacerbates climate change, while climate change in turn exacerbates land degradation in many different ways.
  • In a future with more intensive rainfall the risk of soil erosion on croplands increases.
  • Sustainable land management is a way to protect communities from the detrimental impacts of this soil erosion and landslides. However there are limits to what can be done, so in other cases degradation might be irreversible

Food security

  • The report highlights that climate change is affecting all four pillars of food security: availability (yield and production), access (prices and ability to obtain food), utilization (nutrition and cooking), and stability (disruptions to availability).
  • Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines – especially in the tropics – increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions,”
  • The effects are different in different countries, but there will be more drastic impacts on low-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean

 

Measures needed for improvement:

  • Food wastage: The report records that about one third of food produced is lost or wasted. Measures such as reduction in food wastage can avoid a part of these emissions without jeopardising food security.
  • Risk management: Risk management can enhance communities’ resilience to extreme events, which has an impact on food systems. This can be the result of dietary changes or ensuring a variety of crops to prevent further land degradation and increase resilience to extreme or varying weather.
  • Reducing inequities: Reducing inequalities, improving incomes, and ensuring equitable access to food so that some regions (where land cannot provide adequate food) are not disadvantaged, are other ways to adapt to the negative effects of climate change.
  • Sustainability: An overall focus on sustainability coupled with early action offers the best chances to tackle climate change. This would entail sustainable agricultural practices, low population growth and improved nutrition.
  • Bioenergy management: Bioenergy needs to be carefully managed to avoid risks to food security, biodiversity and land degradation. Desirable outcomes will depend on locally appropriate policies and governance systems.

 

Steps beyond land management

  • The report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, but is not the only solution.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if global warming is to be kept to well below 2ºC, if not 1.5o
  • Policies that are outside the land and energy domains, such as on transport and environment, can also make a critical difference to tackling climate change. Acting early is more cost-effective as it avoids losses.

 

About: IPCC

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change.
  • It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988.
  • In the same year, the UN General Assembly endorsed the action by the WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC. It has 195 member states.
  • It intends to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Reports

  • IPCC assessments provide governments, at all levels, with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. They are a key input into the international negotiations to tackle climate change.
  • IPCC reports are drafted and reviewed in several stages, thus guaranteeing objectivity and transparency.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Everything about Tiger, Tiger Census,Project Tiger, Tiger and Ecosystem

Headline : Tiger no. up 33% in 4 years, India has 75% of global population

Details :

In News

  • The 4th Tiger census report, Status of Tigers Co-predators & Prey in India, 2018, has been recently released by PM Modi.
  • According to the report, India has recorded its highest ever rise, at 33%, in the numbers of tigers i.e. from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018.
  • Also, a report on the management of various reserves has also been released based on an evaluation of India’s 50 tiger sanctuaries

 

Why Tigers are important for ecosystem?

  • Tiger is a top predator which is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed.
  • The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.

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About Tiger Census:

  • The tiger estimation exercise includes habitat assessment and prey estimation.

Significance:

  • More than 80% of the world’s wild tigers are in India, and thus it is crucial to keep track of their numbers.
  • The numbers reflect the success or failure of conservation efforts.
  • Census is an especially important indicator in a fast-growing economy like India where the pressures of development often run counter to the demands of conservation.

Note: The Global Tiger Forum, an international collaboration of tiger-bearing countries, has set a goal of doubling the count of wild tigers by 2022.

 

Tiger Landscapes in India: India has five tiger landscapes where Tiger is found:

  • Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains,
  • Central Indian Landscape and Eastern Ghats,
  • Western Ghats,
    North-East Hills and Brahmaputra Plains
  • Sundarbans

 

About Tiger Census of India:

  • In India, tiger census is carried out every four years since 2006.
  • It is being conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), in collaboration with the State Forest Departments, Conservation NGOs and coordinated by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

Presence of Tiger in world:

  • India is now home to 75% of the global tiger population.
  • The world-wide population of wild tigers stands at around 3,950 with Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh and Bhutan being other key countries contributing to the remaining 25% count.

 

How do Tigers are counted?

  • Pug Mark Method:
    • In this method, the pug mark i.e. the foot print of the tiger is important.
    • It is considered that each pug mark is unique in itself and by analyzing various foot prints in the areas of tigers, the number of tigers in that area can be counted
  • Camera Trap:
    • In this, cameras are installed in the tiger areas having night vision facility (the ability of the camera to record at night) as well.
    • By recording various tigers in the camera, the number of tigers can be estimated.
  • Poop/scat Method:
    • In this method the number of tigers is counted by poop/scat (droppings of the tiger).
    • The poop is analyzed by DNA sampling and then we can arrive at a more accurate count.
  • Radio Collar Method:
    • In this method, Tigers are captured and are fitted with a radio collar. In this way the tigers can be counted. (This method fails when the concerned tiger enters the salty water)

 

Tiger Census 2018:

  • An area of 3,81,400 square kilometres (sq km) of forest was surveyed.

Phases of Census:The census was carried out in Four phases.

Phase 1

  • Recorded carnivore tracks and signs, data sampling of prey species, vegetation and human disturbance.

Phase 2:

  • Phase 2 consists of remote sensing data by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which partners the NTCA in this assessment every four years in collaboration with state forest departments.

Phase 3:

  • The information was plotted on the forest map prepared with remote-sensing and GIS application.
  • Sample areas were divided in 2-sq-km parcels, and trap cameras were laid in these grids.

Phase 4:

  • Data were extrapolated to areas where cameras could not be deployed.

 

Report Summary:

  • Increase in number of Tigers:
    • India’s tiger population has jumped to an estimated 2,967, a rise by 33% over 2,226 reported in 2014.
    • This is also an incredible 210% rise from 1,411 recorded in 2006

  • Shrink in Tiger occupied areas: Overall, areas occupied by tigers shrunk by 17,881 sq km (2014-18).
  • Reason for shrink in areas:
    • not finding evidence of tiger presence in sampled forests (20 per cent actual loss)
    • not sampling forests that had tiger presence in 2014 (eight per cent).
  • Decline in area occupied by Tigers in three out of India’s five tiger landscapes:
    • The Shivalik
    • Western Ghats
    • North East Hills
  • However, other two landscapes i.e. Central India and the Sundarbans landscapes registered an increase.

Increase in Tiger Population:

  • The maximum increase has been in Madhya Pradesh, a massive 218 individuals (71%) from 308 in 2014 to 526.
  • In Maharashtra, the number has gone up from 190 to 312 (64%), and in Karnataka, from 406 to 524 (118, or 29%).
  • Uttarakhand has gained over 100 tigers (340 to 442; 30%)

State that have not performed well:

  • In Chhattisgarh there has been fall in number from 46 in 2014 to 19 tigers.
  • Reason cited for fall in numbers: law and order problem as large parts of the state are hit by the Maoist insurgency.

Report on the management of various reserves

Best managed tiger reserves in the country:

  • Kerala’s Periyar sanctuary.
  • Madhya Pradesh’s Pench sanctuary

Highest numbers of Tigers:

  • Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of tigers

Maximum Improvement:

  • Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu registered the “maximum improvement” since 2014

Worst performers:

  • The Dampa in Mizoram
  • Rajaji reserves in Uttarakhand

Note:

  • No tiger has been found in the Buxa Tiger Reserve (TR) in West Bengal, Palamu TR in Jharkhand and Dampa TR in Mizoram.
  • Also, greater conservation efforts are needed in the “critically vulnerable” Northeast hills and Odisha.

Reasons for increase in number of Tigers:

  • Increased vigilance:
    • Organised poaching rackets have been all but crushed and there has been no organised poaching by traditional gangs in Central Indian landscapes since 2013.
  • Conservation efforts:
    • Increase in number of Tiger Reserves from 28 in 2006, to 50 in 2018, extending protection to larger numbers of tigers over the years.
    • The increased protection has encouraged the tiger to breed and thus led to increase in population.
  • Rehabilitation of villages:
  • The rehabilitation of villages outside core areas in many parts of the country has led to the availability of more inviolate space for tigers.
  • More accurate estimation:
    • Estimation exercises have become increasingly more accurate over the years, it is possible that many tigers that eluded enumerators in earlier exercises were counted this time.
  • Discrepancy in methodology:
    • In 2014, tigers aged 1.5 years or older were counted. The current report has the cut-off age as 1 year.

Milestone initiatives taken by the Government of India through the National Tiger Conservation Authority for conservation and protection of tiger:

  • Legal Steps:
    • Amendment of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 in 2006 to provide enabling provisions for constituting the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
    • Enhancement of punishment for offence in relation to the core area of a tiger reserve or where the offence relate to hunting in the tiger reserves or altering the boundaries of tiger reserves, etc.
  • Administrative Steps:
    • Constitution of a multidisciplinary Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau (Wildlife Crime Control Bureau) with effect from the 6th June, 2007 to effectively control illegal trade in wildlife.
    • Strengthening of antipoaching activities, including special strategy for monsoon patrolling, by providing funding support to tiger reserve States.
  • Financial Steps:
    • Financial and technical help is provided to the State Governments under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes, such as “Project Tiger” and “Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats” for enhancing the capacity and infrastructure of the State Governments for providing effective protection to wild animals.
  • International Cooperation:
    • Bilateral understanding with neighboring countries on controlling trans-boundary illegal trade in wildlife and conservation.
  • Others:
    • Creation of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF): The Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) has been made operational in states with 60% central assistance under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger.
    • Online Tiger Mortality database: In collaboration with TRAFFIC-INDIA, an online tiger mortality data base has been launched, and Generic Guidelines for preparation of reserve specific Security Plan has been evolved.

 

About Project Tiger:

  • For conserving national animal, Tiger, Government of India launched the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973.
  • From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 at present, spread out in 18 of our tiger range states.
  • Project Tiger is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change providing central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves.
  • The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
    • The core areas have the legal status of a national park or a sanctuary, whereas the buffer or peripheral areas are a mix of forest and non-forest land, managed as a multiple use area.
  • Aim: To foster an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas of tiger reserves, with an inclusive people oriented agenda in the buffer.

About National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA):

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body of the Ministry, with an overarching supervisory / coordination role, performing functions as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Objectives:

  • Providing statutory authority to Project Tiger so that compliance of its directives become legal.
  • Fostering accountability of Center-State in management of Tiger Reserves, by providing a basis for MoU with States within our federal structure.
  • Providing for an oversight by Parliament.
  • Addressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger Reserves.

About Wildlife Institute of India

  • The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change,established in May 1982.
  • It carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modeling, Eco-development, Habitat Ecology and Climate Change.
  • WII has a research facility which includes Forensics, Remote Sensing and GIS, Laboratory, Herbarium, and an Electronic Library.
  • The institute is based in Dehradun, India.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Prelims 2019: About Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, About Indian Fox/ Bengal fox, About Chenchu Tribe

News Summary

  • Chenchus believe that beginning the day by seeing the face of the fox is a fortune and thus they have domesticated foxes.
  • However, the conservation of fox falls under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972, according to which hunting or domesticating it is an offence and attracts punishment.

 

About Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

  • The act provides protection to plants as well as animal species.
  • It extends to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir which has its own wildlife act.
  • It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
    • Schedule I and part II of Schedule II : provide absolute protection – offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
    • Schedule III and Schedule IV : Species under these schedules are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
    • Schedule V : includes the animals which may be hunted.
    • Schedule VI: includes endemic plants which are prohibited from cultivation and planting.

 

About Indian Fox/ Bengal fox

  • Its distribution is in entire India right from the Himalayas till the southernmost point of India- Cape Comorin.
  • The Indian Fox prefers to keep to the open countryside rather than the forest areas.
  • It is found in areas next to the villages preferably in the cultivated fields and the bunds bordering the water channels.
  • IUCN Status of Indian Fox: Least Concern
  • Habitat and Ecology: Grassland and Scrubland
  • Population trend: Decreasing
  • Major threats:
    • Habitat loss
    • Hunting & trapping
    • Viral/prion-induced diseases

Note: Other Species of Fox found is India is the Red Fox (found in the Himalayan ranges and in the North-Western fringes of the dry desert zone). It’s  IUCN status is also Least concern,

 

About Chenchu Tribe

  • The Chenchus are an aboriginal tribe, mainly inhabiting the Nallamala forest range spread across four to five districts in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states.
  • They are a conservative tribal group and have not made many changes in their lifestyle or tried to adapt to modernity.
  • Occupation:
    • The Chenchus still go for hunting rather than farming.
    • They sell the meat for the livelihood.
    • The Chenchus collect jungle products like roots, fruits, tubers, beedi leaf, mohua flower, honey, gum, tamarind and green leaves and make a meagre income of it by selling these to traders and government co-operatives.
  • Origin: The Origin of Chenchu is connected to Lord Malikarjuna of the Srisailim temple.
  • Language: They speak in Chenchu language with Telugu Accent.
  • Religion/God: Largely they follow hinduism (97.63%). Chenchus mainly believe in Bhagaban taru who lives in the sky and look after the Chenchus in all their doings. They also worship Lord Shiva, Hanuman, Goddess of Fire for their safety and prosperity.
  • Social Living Pattern:
    • Penta is the name given by Chenchus to their villages.
    • One penta consists of a few huts that are grouped together based on the kinship pattern.
    • The village elder is named as ‘Peddamanishi’ and is generally responsible for maintaining order and harmony within the family as well as in the village as a whole.

 

 

 

 

Section : Social Issues

Everything about Vultures: Ecological Importance, Declining Population, Threats, IUCN status, Types of Vultures and It’s conservation

Headline : Poisoned cattle carcass kills 37 vultures

Details :

The news

  • Around 37 vultures belonging to three endangered species died after feeding on pesticide-laced cattle carcass in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district.

 

Background

  • Vultures are scavenger birds which feed on the carcasses of large animals.
  • Vultures in the country have reduced from 40 million (in 1990) to less than 60 thousand (2012).
  • Till mid of 1980s, Vultures were found in large number in India and often classified as nuisance as they were involved in many birdstrikes. However, today it is rare to sight a vulture.
  • Vultures are the natural cleaners of the environment:
    • By disposing the dead bodies they check the spread of infectious diseases.
    • In absence of vultures, the population of animals like rodents and stray dogs tend to increase leading to the spread of rabies.
  • Hence, the fast disappearing population of vultures is a serious problem in India and there is need to protect the vultures from threats to its survival.

 

News summary

  • Around 37 vultures belonging to three endangered species died in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district after feeding on pesticide-laced cattle carcass.
  • Also, an equal number of vultures were rescued by the forest officials and a wildlife rescue team from the Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre (VCBC), which are in a critical condition.
  • It was a case of poisoning the carcass of a cow by the villagers aimed at killing feral dogs but the vultures died.
  • Most of the 37 vultures that died are Himalayan griffon and a few are oriental white-backed and slender-billed vultures.

 

 

About Vulture species in India

  • Vultures can soar to a height of 7,000 feet and can easily cover distance of more than 100 km in one go.
  • Vultures belong to various species, nine of which are found in India.
  • Of these nine species, four are listed as Critically Endangered, and one as endangered in IUCN red list of endangered species.
  • Species of Vultures found in India and their Conservation Status
    • Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus)- Critically Endangered
    • Indian White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis)- Critically Endangered
    • Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogypscalvus)- Critically Endangered
    • Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris)- Critically Endangered
    • Egyptian Vulture (Neophronpercnopterus)- Endangered
    • Cincerous Vulture (Aegypiusmonachus)- Near Threatened
    • Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus)- Least Concern
    • Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)-Least Concern
    • Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayansis)- Least Concern

 

 

Threats to Vulture survival

  • Diclofenac: According to Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), veterinary use of diclofenac is the main threat to the Vultures in India. The widespread use of diclofenac as pain reliever in cattle is the cause of Vulture’s mortality in India.
  • Habitat destruction Developmental activities like establishment of power projects, irrigation projects, industrial units, construction of highways etc. have ruined the habitats of Vultures resulting into decline in their population.
  • Pesticide pollution: The chlorinated hydrocarbon D.D.T (Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane) used as pesticide enters the body of Vultures through food chain where it affects the activity of estrogen hormone, as a result of which the egg shell is weakened consequently the premature hatching of egg takes place causing the death of the embryo.
  • Slow breeding rate: Vultures lay a single egg in a breeding season. Hence their slow breeding rate is also a threat to their survival.
  • Use of poisoned carcasses: Poison used by human beings to kill cattle-marauding carnivores is also a threat to Vultures in India, as consumption of such poisoned carcasses by Vulture leads to their death.
  • Lack of legal protection: Out of nine species of Vultures found in India only one that is the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus) is protected by law and hence lack of legal protection is also a threat to their survival.

 

 

Conservation of Vultures

  • Replacing diclofenac: There is need to evolve an effective substitute of diclofenac, and the present available substitute meloxicam needs to be subsidized.
  • Captive-breeding programme: This with aim to reintroduce Vultures into the wild need to be launched on large scale, particularly for Critically Endangered and Endangered species of Vultures.
  • Legal protection: All efforts should be made to protect and conserve the Near Threatened and Least Concern species of Vultures in India and all the species of Vultures should be legally protected.
  • In situ conservation: There is need to set up Vulture feeding stations through provision of poison-free food, clean water, bone chips and perches within an open-roofed wire-mesh enclosure for safety and freedom of Vultures.
  • Habitat restoration:Degraded habitats of Vultures need to be restored.
  • Protection:Full protection must be given to nests of the Vultures in their breeding habitat.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Prelims Program: National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA)

Headline : Prelims Program: National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA)

Details :

 Climate change: Problems faced in India

  • Climate Change, caused by the increased concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, has emerged as the most prominent global environmental problem.
  • Most of the countries including India are facing the problems of rising temperature, melting of glaciers, rising of sea-level leading to inundation of the coastal areas, changes in precipitation patterns leading to increased risk of recurrent droughts and devastating floods, threats to biodiversity, an expansion of pest and a number of potential challenges for public health (IPCC, 2007).
  • This is likely to threaten the food security and livelihoods of millions of people in India. Several areas have been recognized as being predominantly risk prone to the impacts of climate change.
  • Among these are the most productive coastal areas, Indo-Gangetic plains (IGP) and the frequently drought and flood prone regions of the country. To ensure the food security of the country, the resilience of Indian agriculture to climatic variability and climate change needs to be enhanced.

 

About National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) 

  • The Government, through Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), initiated a network project on ‘National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture’ (NICRA).

 

Goals of NICRA:

  • To enhance resilience of Indian agriculture through Strategic Research on adaptation and mitigation (covering crops, livestock, fisheries and natural resource management)
  • Technology Demonstration
  • Capacity Building
  • Sponsored/Competitive Grant Projects

 

Aim of NICRA

  • To make Indian agriculture resilient to climate change through development and application of adaptation and mitigation technologies.

 

Objectives

  • Phenotyping, physiological evaluation and genetic improvement of irrigated crops (rice, wheat, chickpea) for heat and drought stresses.
  • Monitoring of GHG emissions through flux towers/field measurement in irrigated rice-wheat production system in the IGP (New Delhi) and rice-rice system in south-east peninsula (Aduthurai).
  • Adaptation and mitigation through improved crop management, enhanced water productivity and nutrient use efficiency; and carbon and nutrient budgeting in rice-wheat system.
  • Strengthening real-time data capture on crop health through Satellite Data Reception System and integrate the output to agro-advisories.
  • Integrated crop modelling for wheat and rice for impact assessment and indentifying adaptation strategies at regional level for near and long-term downscaled scenario.
  • Technology demonstration on farmers fields and capacity building

 

Statistics:

  • Realizing that the climate change is likely to have major impacts on agriculture, the Government through Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has assessed the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture under different scenarios using crop simulation models.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has conducted climate change impact analysis on crop yields through various centres in different parts of the country using crop simulation models (INFO-CROP and HAD CM3) for 2020, 2050 and 2080.
  • The results indicate variability in temperature and rainfall pattern with significant impacts on crop yields.
  • These studies projected reduction in yields of irrigated rice by about 4% in 2020, 7% in 2050 and 10% in 2080.
  • Rainfed rice yields are likely to be reduced by 6% in 2020, but in 2050 and 2080 they are projected to decrease only marginally (<2.5%).
  • Climate change is projected to reduce timely-sown irrigated wheat production by about 6% in 2020.
  • In case of late sown wheat, however, the projected reductions are to the extent of 18, 23 and 25 percent in 2020, 2050 and 2080 respectively.
  • Yields of irrigated kharif maize may decrease by about 18% in 2020 and 2050 and about 23% in 2080 due to climate change.
  • Rainfed sorghum yields are projected to decline marginally (2.5%) in 2020 scenario and by about 8% in 2050.
Section : Miscellaneous

Everything about Global Energy and CO2 Status Report of International Energy Agency

Headline : India’s carbon dioxide emissions up 5%

Details :

Topic in News

Global Energy and CO2 Status Report of International Energy Agency

News Summary

  • According to Global Energy and CO2 Status Report released by IEA, the global energy demand increased by 2.3% in 2018.
  • As a result the energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7% to 33 gigatonnes in 2018.

In focus: Global Energy and CO2 Status Report, 2019

Global energy trends

Demand

  • Global energy consumption increased by 2.3%.
  • China, the United States, and India together accounted for nearly 70% of the rise in energy demand.
  • India saw primary energy demand increase 4% accounting for 11% of global growth.
  • Growth in India was led by coal (for power generation) and oil (for transport), the first and second biggest contributors to energy demand growth, respectively.

Sector-wise energy demand

  • Power generation accounts for largest share of energy demand (about 50%), followed by transportation.
  • About 1/5th of the global energy demand came from higher demand for heating and cooling systems due to climate change.

Contribution

  • Fossils met nearly 70% of the growth in energy.
  • Natural gas contributed for 45% of the energy growth. (due to strong demand in US and China)
  • Solar contributed to 31% of the energy growth.
  • Coal-fired power plants contributed 35% of the energy demand
  • Oil demand grew 1.3% worldwide.
  • Nuclear also grew by 3.3% in 2018 with new additions in China and the restart of four reactors in Japan.

Emissions

  • The global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7% to 33 Gigatonnes (Gt) in 2018.
  • China, India, and the United States accounted for 85% of the net increase in emissions
  • Emissions declined for Germany, Japan, Mexico, France and the United Kingdom

Contribution

  • Power sector accounted for nearly two-thirds of emissions growth.
  • CO2 emission from coal combustion was responsible for over 0.3°C of the 1°C increase in global temperatures over pre-industrial levels.
  • Thus coal is the single largest source of global temperature increase.

Country-wise emissions

  • India saw the largest rise in CO2 emissions with 4.8% over last year.
  • CO2 emissions in China grew by 2.5%
  • US saw an emissions rise of 3.1%.
  • Europe and Japan actually saw a dip in emissions.
  • India contributes to 7% to the global carbon dioxide burden.
  • USA is the largest emitter responsible for 14% of global emissions

Note: The important data from the report is collated for use in mains examination wherever appropriate.

Section : Environment & Ecology

While the frequency of forest fire appears to have increased in the country, India’s approach towards forest fire management has significant gaps. Elucidate. (10 marks)

While the frequency of forest fire appears to have increased in the country, India’s approach towards forest fire management has significant gaps. Elucidate. (10 marks)

Approach:

  • Introduce with increased frequency of forest fires in India
  • Bring out the various gaps in forest fire management (NIDM report identified the gaps)
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

India, which saw a 46% increase in the number of forest fires in the last 16 years (2003-17), witnessed a 125% spike (from 15,937 to 35,888) in such fires in just two years (2015 to 2017). According to Forest Survey Report of India, 64.29 per cent of the Recorded Forest Area is prone to fires. As the number of incidents showed a rising trend, the Intensification of Forest Management Scheme was revised and replaced as Forest Fire Prevention & Management Scheme in 2017. However, there remain significant gaps.

Key gaps in forest fire management (as per NIDM):

  • Lack of appropriate policy and planning to tackle forest fire: Existing forest policy and other documents, including plans etc. lack clear guidelines for forest fire management.
  • Lack of proper institutional mechanism: There is no institutional mechanism with sole responsibility of fire management, even in higher fire prone regions. The forest department looks after forest fire management.
  • Emphasis on response only: Focus is on response, while little importance is given to mitigation, preparedness, human resource development, awareness etc.
  • Lack of scientific approach to collect fire data and document it for forest fire management: At State level, there is not much effort to collect and document forest fire data and use it in research and planning. Only the Forest Survey of India has recently started compiling forest fire data.
  • Lack of funding: There is no provision for separate budget for forest fire management at State level in general. Forest protection fund is used.
  • Not many initiatives to involve local community in forest fire management: There is a need to involve community by providing them some initiatives to protect forest from fires.
  • Poor response to HRD and other capacity building initiatives: Forest departments in most of the cases are not trained and lack complete knowledge about forest fire and its behavior. The forest department training institutes are also not well equipped.
  • Lack of proper contingency plans and rehearsals/drills for fire suppression
  • Poor early warning system: Forest departments still use the traditional methods to detect fires and disseminate information at field levels. There is an urgent need to revitalize the system using modern techniques and train the field staff to use them more effectively.
  • Lack of preventive and preparedness measures to ensure better response: Preparedness activities like clearing fire lines, removing the fuel (dead wood, leaves etc.), recruiting forest fire watchers, rehearsal and drill practices etc. are essential.
  • Lack of coordination between various agencies: Coordination of forest departments with other agencies, whose support may be very important in forest fire management, is very poor.

Forest fires are today a leading cause of forest degradation in India while also leading to loss of lives and livelihoods. There is a need for a comprehensive national policy and guidelines for forest fire prevention and management, with focus on institutions and capacity, community engagement, technology, and data learning from national and international best practices.

Subjects : Disaster Management

Define Environmental Lapse Rate (ELR). What are the various types of temperature inversion? (200 words)

Define Environmental Lapse Rate (ELR). What are the various types of temperature inversion? (200 words)
Approach:
  • Define ELR
  • Define Temperature inversion
  • Discuss various types of temperature inversions (mention the areas where they are prominent if possible)
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

Environmental lapse rate (ELR) is the rate at which the air temperature changes with height in the atmosphere surrounding a cloud or a rising parcel of air.  Though the overall average rate decreases about 6.5°C/km, the rate varies greatly in different airstreams and different regions of the world and at different seasons of the year.

 

Inversion:

Where the lapse rate of temperature is negative (that is, when temperature increases with the height), a temperature inversion is said have occurred.

 

Types of temperature inversion:

There are four kinds of temperature inversions: ground, turbulence, subsidence, and frontal.

 

1) Ground inversion: A ground inversion develops when air is cooled by contact with a colder surface until it becomes cooler than the overlying atmosphere; this occurs most often on clear nights when the ground cools off rapidly due to radiation. If the temperature of surface air drops below its dew point, then the chances of fog appearing increases. Topography greatly affects the magnitude of ground inversions. If the land is rolling or hilly, the cold air formed on the higher land surfaces tends to drain into the hollows, producing a larger and thicker inversion above low ground and little or none above higher elevations.

 

2) Turbulence inversion: A turbulence inversion often forms when quiescent air overlies turbulent air. Within the turbulent layer, vertical mixing carries heat downward and cools the upper part of the layer. The unmixed air above is not cooled and eventually is warmer than the air below; an inversion then exists.

 

3) Subsidence inversion: A subsidence inversion develops when a widespread layer of air descends. The layer is compressed and heated by the resulting increase in atmospheric pressure, and as a result the lapse rate of temperature is reduced. If the air mass sinks low enough, the air at higher altitudes becomes warmer than at lower altitudes, producing a temperature inversion.  Subsidence inversions are common over the northern continents in winter and over the subtropical oceans; these regions generally have subsiding air because they are located under large high-pressure centres.

 

4) Frontal inversion: A frontal inversion occurs when a cold air mass undercuts a warm air mass and lifts it aloft; the front between the two air masses then has warm air above and cold air below. This kind of inversion has considerable slope, whereas other inversions are nearly horizontal. In addition, humidity may be high, and clouds may be present immediately above it. This type of inversions is generally found in northern Europe.

 

Temperature inversions are interesting and abnormal climatological phenomenon. They can also have adverse health impact when they occur near the surface of the earth – by trapping pollutants near the ground.

Subjects : Geography

A climate vulnerability index for India

Headline : A climate vulnerability index for India

Details :

News Summary

  • India will soon have a climate-vulnerability index which will be developed by Department of Science and Technology(DST).
  • It is being modeled on the basis of a similar climate-vulnerability assessment done on 12 Himalayan states in 2018.

 

Climate Vulnerability Index

  • The Climate Vulnerability Index will be developed on the basis of a study being carried out assessing the climate risks faced across all states.
  • The DST will also develop a Climate Portal that presents district-wise data relating to climate vulnerability.
  • Vulnerability would be a measure of the inherent risks a district faces, primarily by virtue of its geography and socio-economic situation.
  • The districts will be assigned a value between 0 to 1, 1 indicating the highest level of vulnerability.
  • Parameters: The index will be developed based on 8 key parameters
    • Percentage of area under forests
    • Yield variability of food grain
    • Population density
    • Female literacy rate
    • Infant mortality rate
    • Percentage of population below poverty line
    • Average man-days under MGNREGA
    • Area under slope greater than 30%.

 

Need for the vulnerability index

  • Climate variability in temperature and rainfall affect biophysical and socio-economic environment.
  • Climate variability exposes environment to the following adverse effects:
    • Land degradation
    • Deforestation
    • Proliferation of invasive species
    • Loss of biodiversity
    • Landslides
    • Invasion of commercial crops
    • Low productive agriculture
    • Changed livelihood patterns
    • Marginalization and consequent Migration

 

Background

  • In the backdrop of COP-24 at Katowice Poland, India had had done a study to assess climate vulnerability of 12 Himalayan States.
  • The Himalayan states include Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, hill districts of West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Importance of the study

  • Himalayan ecosystem is vital to the ecological security of the India due to following:
    • Plays a crucial role in providing forest cover
    • Feeds perennial rivers that are the source of drinking water, irrigation, and hydropower
    • Biodiversity conservation
    • Rich base for high-value agriculture
    • Sustainable tourism

 

Section : Environment & Ecology

Do forest surveys separately

Headline : Do forest surveys separately

Details :

The news

• highpower committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has recommended the government to separate the forest surveys for estimating trees grown in forest and outside  forest.

About India State of Forest Report

• Forest Survey of India (FSI) an organization under the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change Government of India has been assessing the forest and tree resources of our country on a biennial basis since 1987.
• The results of the assessment are published in its biennial report titled “India State of Forest Report (ISFR)”.
• The report contains information on forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, growing stock inside and outside the forest areas, carbon stock in India’s forests and forest cover in different patch size classes.
• Special thematic information on forest cover such as hill, tribal districts, and north eastern region are also includedseparately in the report.
• Currently in the ISFR, the government includes both trees grown in forest and outside forest towards estimating the portion of India’s geographical area covered by forest.

Highlights of the Indian state of Forest reports

• India has targeted since 1988 to have at least 33% of its area under forest cover but it is not able to achieve this goal.
• According to the recent India State of Forest Report (SFR) 2017India has about 7,08,273 sq.kmof forest, which is 21.53% of the geographic area of the country (32,87,569 sq. km.).
• India achieved a marginal 0.21% rise in the area under forest from 7,01,673 Sq. km. to 7,08,273 sq.km between 2015 and 2017.
• The total tree cover, according to this assessment, was 93,815 sq. km. or a 2% rise from the approximately 92,500 sq. km. in 2015.

Background

• The information given in the report serves as an important tool to monitor the country’s forest resources and plan suitable scientific and policy interventions for its management.
• It also serves as a useful source of information for the policy makers and others interested in natural resource conservation and management.
• Various editions of the ISFR over the years highlights that the reported the area under forests has remained around 21% only.
• So the government started including substantial patches of trees such as plantations or greenlands outside areas designated as forests, in its estimation of total forest cover.
• Critics considered this move of including both inestimating the India’s geographical forest cover area an ecologically unsound principle.
• They have for long recommended to separate estimate tree cover inside the forest and outside it for reflecting a true picture of forest cover of the country.
• Now, this is the first time that a government constituted committee has recommended for a separate survey of designated forest area.

Highlights of the news

• highpower committee was constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
• The committee has recommended that forest surveys to estimate forest cover should separately estimate trees grown in forests from those grown outside, that is, in plantations and private lands.
• Significance
This will give a true picture of geographical area covered under forest in our country.
Efforts made to achieve the 33% forest cover target can be monitored and evaluated.
Effective planning can be done in order to achieve the 33% forest cover target.
It will also serve as a useful source of information for all those involved in natural resource conservation and management.

Section : Environment & Ecology

Prelims Program: National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)

Headline : Prelims Program: National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)

Details :

About National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)

  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) has been formulated for enhancing agricultural productivity especially in rainfed areas focusing on integrated farming, water use efficiency, soil health management and synergizing resource conservation.

 

Objectives

  • To make agriculture more productive, sustainable, remunerative and climate resilient by promoting location specific Integrated/Composite Farming Systems
  • To conserve natural resources through appropriate soil and moisture conservation measures.
  • To adopt comprehensive soil health management practices based on soil fertility maps, soil test based application of macro & micro nutrients, judicious use of fertilizers etc.
  • To optimize utilization of water resources through efficient water management to expand coverage for achieving ‘more crop per drop’ ;
  • To develop capacity of farmers & stakeholders, in conjunction with other on – going Missions e.g. National Mission on Agriculture Extension & Technology, National Food Security Mission, National Initiative for Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) etc., in the domain of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.
  • To pilot models in select blocks for improving productivity of rainfed farming by mainstreaming rainfed technologies refined through NICRA and by leveraging resources from other schemes/Missions like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP), RKVY etc.
  • To establish an effective inter and intra Departmental/Ministerial co – ordination for accomplishing key deliverables of National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture under the aegis of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).

 

Mission Strategy

  • Promoting integrated farming system covering crops, livestock & fishery, plantation and pasture based composite farming for enhancing livelihood opportunities, ensuring food security and minimizing risks from crop failure through supplementary/ residual production systems.
  • Popularizing resource conservation technologies (both on – farm and off – farm) and introducing practices that will support mitigation efforts in times of extreme climatic events or disasters like prolonged dry spells, floods etc.
  • Promoting effective management of available water resources and enhancing water use efficiency through application of technologies coupled with demand and supply side management solutions.
  • Encouraging improved agronomic practices for higher farm productivity, improved soil treatment, increased water holding capacity, judicious use of chemicals/ energy and enhanced soil carbon storage.
  • Creating database on soil resources through land use survey, soil profile study and soil analysis on GIS platform to facilitate adoption of location and soil – specific crop management practices & optimize fertilizer use.
  • Promoting location and crop specific integrated nutrient management practices for improving soil health, enhancing crop productivity and maintaining quality of land and water resources.
  • Involving knowledge institutions and professionals in developing climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies for specific agro climatic situations and promoting them through appropriate farming systems.
  • Programmatic interventions as per land capability and conducive to climatic parameters in select blocks as pilots for ensuring integrated development through dissemination and adoption of rainfed technologies with greater reach in disadvantaged areas & location specific planning by way of coordination, convergence and leveraging investments from other Schemes/Missions like MGNREGS, IWMP, RKVY, National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), National Mission for Agricultural Extension & Technology (NMAE&T) etc.

 

 

Mission Interventions

  • NMSA has following four major programme components or activities:
  1. Rainfed Area Development (RAD)
  • RAD adopts an area based approach for development and conservation of natural resources along with farming systems.
  • This component has been formulated in a ‘watershed plus framework’, i.e., to explore potential utilization of natural resources base/assets available/created through watershed development and soil conservation activities /interventions under MGNREGS, NWDPRA, RVP&FPR, RKVY, IWMP etc..
  • This component introduced appropriate farming systems by integrating multiple components of agriculture such as crops, horticulture, livestock, fishery, forestry with agro based income generating activities and value addition.
  • Besides, soil test/soil health card based nutrient management practices, farmland development, resource conservation and crop selection conducive to local agro climatic condition are also promoted under this component.
  1. On Farm Water Management (OFWM)
  • OFWM focuses primarily on enhancing water use efficiency by promoting efficient on – farm water management technologies and equipment.
  • This not only focuses on application efficiency but, in conjunction with RAD component, also emphasized on effective harvesting & management of rainwater.
  • Assistance is extended for adopting water conservation technologies, efficient delivery and distribution systems etc.
  • Emphasis is also be given to manage and equitably distribute the resources of commons by involving the water users associations, etc..
  1. Soil Health Management (SHM)
  • SHM aims at promoting location as well as crop specific sustainable soil health management including residue management, organic farming practices by way of creating and linking soil fertility maps with macro – micro nutrient management, appropriate land use based on land capability, judicious application of fertilizers and minimizing the soil erosion/degradation.
  • Assistance is provided for various improved package of practices based on land use and soil characteristics, generated through geographical information system (GIS) based thematic maps and database on land and soil characteristics through extensive field level scientific surveys.
  • Besides, this component also provides support to reclamation of problem soils (acid/alkaline/saline).
  1. Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture: Monitoring, Modeling and Networking (CCSAMMN)
  • CCSAMMN provides creation and bidirectional (land/farmers to research/scientific establishments and vice versa) dissemination of climate change related information and knowledge by way of piloting climate change adaptation/mitigation research/model projects in the domain of climate smart sustainable management practices and integrated farming system suitable to local agro – climatic conditions.

 

Section : Miscellaneous

Why a dam in Karnataka bothers Tamil Nadu

Headline : Why a dam in Karnataka bothers Tamil Nadu

Details :

Why in news?

  • Recently, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to stop the process of a feasibility study for the Mekedatu dam project in Karnataka.

 

About Mekedatu dam project

  • Being set up by the Karnataka government, the project is near Mekedatu, in Ramanagaram district, across the river Cauvery from Tamil Nadu.
  • Its proposed capacity is 48 TMC (thousand million cubic feet).
  • Its primary objective is to supply drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the groundwater table in the region.

 

 

Background

  • The dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of Cauvery waters is decades old.
  • For many years, both the states have been maintaining differences over the sharing of water.
  • Karnataka intends to build Mekedatu reservoir across river Cauvery near Mekedatu in Kanakapura taluk.
  • However, Tamil Nadu objected saying Karnataka had not sought prior permission for the project. Its argument was that the project would affect the flow of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
  • In November 2014, the Karnataka government invited expressions of interest in the Rs 6,000-crore project. In its 2015 Budget, it allocated Rs 25 crore for a detailed project report.
  • Tamil Nadu saw massive protests in 2015, including a state-wide bandh backed by political parties, farmers, transport unions, retailers and traders.
  • The T.N. Assembly also adopted a unanimous resolution urging the Centre to stop Karnataka from building the project.
  • Ahead of the 2016 Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, delegation of Opposition leaders met the Prime Minister against Karnataka’s decision to allocate Rs 25 crore for a feasibility study.
  • From Karnataka, then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah led an all-party delegation to the Prime Minister seeking the Centre’s cooperation in going ahead.
  • The study has been cleared by the Central Water Commission (CWC), which has also asked for a detailed project report.
  • The process cleared by the CWC needs further clearance from the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) too.

 

Note

  • The CWC clearance is for a report subject to certain conditions, which include the concerns raised by the Tamil Nadu government.
  • The detailed report has to consider the views of the co-basin states as well.

 

Why Tamil Nadu is opposing the project?

  • Its main argument is that the project violates the final award of the Cauvery River Water Tribunal, and that the construction of the two reservoirs would result in impounding of the flows in the intermediate catchment below the Krishnaraja Sagar and Kabini reservoirs, and Billigundulu in the common border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

 

Arguments given by Karnataka government

  • According to Karnataka, project will not come in the way of releasing the stipulated quantum of water to Tamil Nadu, nor will it be used for irrigation purposes.

 

 

Section : Polity & Governance

Zoological Survey of India

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), a premier research institution under the Ministry has completed 100 years of services to the Nation, undertaking survey, exploration and research leading to the advancement of our knowledge on the exceptionally rich faunal diversity of the country since its inception in 1916. Over the successive plan periods functions of ZSI have also expanded gradually encompassing areas like the Environmental Impact Assessment with regard to fauna; survey of conservation areas; status survey of endangered species; computerization of digitization of data on faunal resources; Environmental Information System (ENVIS) on faunal diversity; identification and advisory services; National Designated Repository of type and voucher specimens; supporting enforcement of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972; establishment of marine aquaria and Museum for awareness on conservation etc. and acts as a custodian of the National Zoological Collections. Headquarters are at Kolkata and 16 Regional centres are located at different parts of the country.

Botanical Survey of India

Botanical Survey of India (BSI) is the apex research organization under Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Govt. of India for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of the country. It was established in 1890 with the basic objective to explore the plant resources of country and to identify the plants species with economic virtues. After independence the department was reorganized in 1954 by Government of India as a part of scientific development of the country. During the successive plan periods, the functional base of BSI was further expanded to include various new areas such as inventorying of endemic, rare and threatened plant species; evolving conservation strategies; studies on fragile ecosystems and protected areas, like wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and biosphere reserves, multiplication and maintenance of endemic and threatened plant species, wild ornamentals, etc., in Botanic Gardens and Orchidaria; documentation of traditional knowledge associated with plants and development of National Database of herbarium specimens/live collection/ botanical paintings/ illustrations, plant distribution and nomenclature, plant uses, etc.

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established under the Ministry, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.

The Bureau has its headquarters in New Delhi and five regional offices at Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Jabalpur; three sub-regional offices at Guwahati, Amritsar and Cochin; and five border units at Ramanathapuram, Gorakhpur, Motihari, Nathula and Moreh.

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It is mandated to collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to state and other enforcement agencies for immediate action so as to apprehend the criminals; to establish a centralized wildlife crime data bank; coordinate actions by various agencies in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of the Act; assist foreign authorities and international organization concerned to facilitate co-ordination and universal action for wildlife crime control; capacity building of the wildlife crime enforcement agencies for scientific and professional investigation into wildlife crime and assist state governments to ensure success in prosecutions related to wildlife crimes; and advise the Government of India on issues relating to wildlife crimes having national and international ramifications, relevant policy and laws. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau was constituted in 2007.

Brief about Fly Ash

Fly ash is a fine powder which is a byproduct from burning pulverized coal in electric generation power plants.

Fly ash is a pozzolan, a substance containing aluminous and siliceous material that forms cement in the presence of water. When mixed with lime and water it forms a compound similar to Portland cement. The fly ash produced by coal-fired power plants provide an excellent prime material used in blended cement, mosaic tiles, and hollow blocks among others. Fly ash includes substantial amounts of silicon dioxide (SiO2) (both amorphous and crystalline), aluminium oxide (Al2O3) and calcium oxide (CaO), the main mineral compounds in coal-bearing rock strata.

Hydroelectric Projects in India

Consider the following statements about Kishenganga River

1.      It is a tributary of river Satluj

2.      It is called Neelum in Pakistan

Select the correct statements

a       Only 1

b       Only 2

c       Both 1 and 2

d       Neither 1 nor 2

Explanation:

Solution (b)

The Jhelum has its source in a spring at Verinag in the south-eastern part of the Kashmir Valley. It flows northwards into Wular Lake (north-western part of Kashmir Valley). From Wular Lake, it changes its course southwards. At Baramulla the river enters a gorge in the hills. The river forms steep-sided narrow gorge through Pir Panjal Range below Baramula. At Muzaffarabad, the river takes a sharp hairpin bend southward. Thereafter, it forms the India-Pakistan boundary for 170 km and emerges at the Potwar Plateau near Mirpur. After flowing through the spurs of the Salt Range it debouches (emerge from a confined space into a wide, open area) on the plains near the city of Jhelum. It joins the Chenab at Trimmu.

The Kishenganga (Neelum) River, the largest tributary of the Jhelum, joins it, at Domel Muzaffarabad

Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant

It is a dam which is part of a run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme that is designed to divert water from the Kishanganga River to a power plant in the Jhelum River basin

Kishenganga is a river in the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan; it starts in the Indian city of Gurais and then merges with the Jhelum River near the Pakistani city of Muzaffarabad. When Kishanganga enters Pakistan, it is called “Neelam river.”

Ratle Hydroelectric Plant

The Ratle Hydroelectric Plant is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power station currently under construction on the Chenab River, downstream of the village of Ratle in Doda district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Chenab River is a major river of India and Pakistan. It forms in the upper Himalayas in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, India, and flows through the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir into the plains of the Punjab, Pakistan. The waters of the Chenab are allocated to Pakistan under the terms of the Indus Waters Treaty.

Pakal Dul Dam

The Pakal Dul Dam is a proposed concrete-face rock-fill dam on the Marusadar River, a tributary of the Chenab River, in Kishtwar district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan, who relies on the Chenab downstream, views the dam as a violation of the Indus Water Treaty, whereas India states it is as per Treaty Provisions.

Lower Kalnai Hydroelectric Project

Hydroelectric power project on Lower Kalnai Nalla, tributary to river Chenab in Doda district of Jammu & Kashmir.

Miyar Hydroelectric Project

Miyar Hydroelectric Project is located in District Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh on the Miyar Nallah which is a major tributary of Chenab River.

Baglihar Dam

It is a run-of-the-river power project on the Chenab River in the southern Doda district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Brief about Bio-fortification

Consider the following statements

1.     Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology.

2.     Conventional fortification differs from Biofortification in that conventional fortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during processing of the crops.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

a     1 only

b     2 only

c      Both

d     None

Explanation:

Solution (a)

Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.

Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology. Biofortification differs from conventional fortification in that biofortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during processing of the crops. Biofortification may therefore present a way to reach populations where supplementation and conventional fortification activities may be difficult to implement and/or limited.

Examples of biofortification projects include:

·      iron-biofortification of rice, beans, sweet potato, cassava and legumes;

·      zinc-biofortification of wheat, rice, beans, sweet potato and maize;

·      provitamin A carotenoid-biofortification of sweet potato, maize and cassava;

·      amino acid and protein-biofortification of sourghum and cassava.

Everything about Tiger Estimation and It’s techniques.

Onestopupsc

Fourth all India Tiger estimation has began in the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve.

Appliances and apps being used

Android phones and a new app are being used by forest officials to collect field data for digital enumeration.The app, Monitoring System for Tigers – Intensive Protection and Ecological Status (M-StrIPES) is being used for the first time to avoid human error involved in the traditional recording of the pugmarks and other signs.

Field data

The field data collection exercise is being done by the forest personnel now in grids of 2 sq. km. each, as against 4 sq. km. earlier, for more accuracy.The exercise is also to enumerate the number of panthers, bears and wild dogs in the tiger landscape spread over 3,728 sq. km. including a core area of 1,251 sq. km, and a buffer zone of 1,283 sq. km, he said.The officials hitherto have been collecting data manually in the Performa on paper, which is prone to human errors.

Carnivore sign survey

The new app is used for the carnivore sign survey and transects marking to record details such as pellet density, vegetation status, etc.The carnivore estimation for three days will be followed by herbivore estimation for another three days to ascertain whether the reserve has enough prey for the big cats to flourish.After compilation of the figures in two phases, the fourth phase of the survey of collective evidence through camera traps will be taken up in March/April this year.

Different methods for Tiger Census are:

1. Pugmark technique:

It has been one of the most popular ways of counting tigers. Each tiger is known to leave a distinct pugmark on the ground and these are different from the others in the big cat family. Photographs or plaster casts of these pugmarks are then analysed to assess the tiger numbers.

2. Installation of cameras:

Cameras could be left in dense forests for several days to capture images of individual tigers.

3. Double-sampling method:

This is the new method adopted by Wildlife Institute of India in Tiger Census, 2015. The first stage involved ground survey by the forest department. Under this, forest department staff collected evidences of tiger presence such as pugmarks, scat, scratches on trees or other such unmistakable signs of tiger presence.The next stage involved camera trapping. Based on the ground surveys, locations are chosen for installing cameras.These cameras are heat and motion sensitive. They lie idle till they detect any motion or a sudden change in temperature which means, these capture just anything that moves like other animals and even birds.Each tiger is known to have a very unique stripe pattern which is used to differentiate one tiger from the other.

Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve

It spreads over Nalgonda and Mahabubnagar and is the largest Tiger reserve in the country and covers a total area of about 3,568 square kms. The Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Sanctuary was declared officially in the year 1978 and has been recognized by the Project Tiger in the year 1983. This Reserve has been renamed as the Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in the year 1992. It is situated in the deciduous Nallamala forests with the mystifying landscape of the lofty hills and echoing valleys, exciting winding roads, perennial rivers.It is this most charismatic world of the wild cats. The mighty River Krishna which rises in Sahyadri Hills and makes its way through Maharashtra and Karnataka flows across Nallamala tiger reserve.

Why Bengaluru’s Bellandur lake keeps catching fire? Join Telegram Channel

Onestop IAS

  • A huge plume of fire was spotted emanating seemingly spontaneously from the severely-polluted Bellandur Lake in mid January. The Lake has witnessed occasional fires on its surface in the past as well.
  • Apart from fire, the lake also witness the issues like froth formation, loss of biodiversity due to encroachment etc.

The Bellandur Lake

  • Bellandur Lake, spread over 906 acres in southeastern Bengaluru, is the city’s largest lake.
  • Until the 1980s, the lake was a vibrant ecosystem that nurtured a variety of birds, fish and insects, and a popular picnicking, boating and fishing site.

Pollution in the Bellandur Lake

  • The lake receives over 480 million litres of raw sewage from the city daily.
  • The dramatic growth of Bengaluru over the last two decades has led to massive amounts of domestic and industrial waste flowing into the lake.

Encroachment of the Bellandur Lake

  • A study on ‘Land use’ by the wetland research group at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was done last year, which analysed remote sensing data on temporal basis (1970s to 2016).
  • As per report:
  • Increase in built-up area: There is increase in built-up area (paved surfaces, buildings, roads) from 5.4 per cent (1973) to 92.3 per cent (2016).
  • Decline in other ecosystem: There is decline in vegetation cover (58.0 per cent to 4.1 per cent), water bodies (4.3 per cent to 1.4 per cent) and other (open lands, agriculture) land uses (32.3 per cent to 2.1 per cent).
  • Predication of likely land uses reveals that 94 per cent of the catchment would be concretised by 2020.

Consequences of pollution & encroachment

  • Loss of Biodiversity: The encroachment of vast swathes of its catchment area by hundreds of apartment blocks, and the dumping of garbage on its shores, have throttled the flow of water into the lake and killed its biodiversity over time.
  • Poor quality of water: The flow of untreated sewage and industrial waste has rendered the lake’s water unusable for even irrigation.
  • Formation of froth: Bellandur Lake is now infamous for the gigantic clouds of froth that accumulate on its surface, spilling over into the many busy roads that skirt its shores several times a year.
  • Frequent fire: Bellandur Lake has witnessed occasional fires on its surface in the past as well, for which scientists have blamed the pollutants in the water.

Reasons for fire:

  • Pollution as main reason: It is not clear how the lake caught fire recently but scientists have blamed the pollutants in the water.
  • As per State authorities: Police and the state Pollution Control Board suspect the blaze started after miscreants set on fire dry grass on the lakeshore.
  • As per environmentalist: They believe that the deadly chemicals and large amounts of methane in the lake may have resulted in an accidental or small fire spreading over a vast area.
  • As per the IISc study: The discharge of untreated effluents (rich in hydrocarbons) with accidental fire (like throwing cigarettes, beedi) has led to the fire in the lake. Incidence of foam catching fire are due to compounds with high flammability, i.e., mostly higher hydrocarbons and organic polymers from nearby industries.
  • It was in February 2017 that a similar fire had seen the NGT taking up a suo motu case, and eventually lead to pressure on the state government to formulate plans to clean up the over 700-acre lake.

Reasons for froth formation:

  • The largescale frothing on the lake’s surface has also been attributed to the inflow of phosphorus from detergents and personal cleaning products through domestic sewage.
  • As per IISc study, high wind coupled with high intensity of rainfall leads to upwelling of sediments with the churning of water as it travels from higher elevation to lower elevation forming froth due to phosphorous.

Reasons for loss of wetland biodiversity:

  • Absence of accountability: One reason why the pollution-linked frothing on Bellandur Lake has continued for over three decades now, is the absence of any real accountability for the death of Bengaluru’s lakes.
  • Unplanned growth: Civic agencies have failed to upgrade in step with the unplanned growth of the city, resulting in the unregulated flow of sewage and industrial pollutants into water bodies like Bellandur Lake.
  • Encroachment by government: Of the 200-odd lakes that Bengaluru has lost over the past four decades, the government itself has reclaimed several dozen — to create bus stands, sports stadiums, housing complexes, and for public sector organisations like ISRO to set up facilities.
  • Builder-Politician nexus: The political will to act has been lacking, as the builder-politician nexus has rendered agencies like the state PCB largely ineffectual over the decades. Real estate firms have also been major beneficiaries of land allotment on lakeshores.

Cases of other wetland bodies:

  • While Bellandur is most frequently in the news for the froth it throws up and the fires that break out on its surface every year, it is only one among several similarly polluted lakes.
  • Varthur Lake, the second major lake in the city, is in an almost equally bad state.
  • Again, the Vrishabhavati River in the western part of Bengaluru is now recognised only as an open sewer; like the Bellandur Lake, this river was once a source of drinking water for the city.

Way Forward

  • The IISc study recommended a “ban on phosphorus use in detergents or regulation of detergents with phosphorus in the market” as one of the most important steps to stop the incidents of fire on the lake.
  • It also recommended a decentralised treatment of sewage, enforcement of the “polluter pays principle” for industries dumping untreated waste, and protection of the catchment area from further deterioration due to real estate projects, garbage dumping and encroachments.

Features of Sunderbans

Feature of Sunderbans

 It is classified as a moist tropical forest.
 It is a UNESCO world heritage site.
 Recognised under Ramsar wetland site
 Dominated by “ Sundri tree”
 Largest single block of halophytic mangrove forest in the world.
 It has common features of the both estuarine and mangrove ecosystem.
 Agent of carbon Sequestration
 It area lies both in India and Bangladesh (Largest in Bangladesh).
 It acts as shelter belt to protect the people from storms, cyclones, tidal surges, sea water seepage and intrusion.
 Livelihoods for millions of people such as woodcutters, fisherman, honey gatherers, leaves and grass gatherers.

Everything about Steel Sector

About Steel sector

• In 2016-17, India’s total ‘Finished Steel Production’ for sale was around 100 MT with an apparent consumption of about 85 MT. Thus production of finished steel was sufficient to meet its present demand in the country and also for exports.

• The domestic steel sector contributes around 2% of the country’s GDP and employs over 6 lakh people.

• As per The World Steel Association (worldsteel) report-2017, India ranked third with 95.6 Million Tonnes (MT) in world total steel production of 1630 MT. China with 808 MT and Japan with 105 MT are ahead of India.

• India has very low per capita steel consumption i.e. 65 kg, (US-750; China-400+; World-216), hence steel sector has huge potential.

Concerns:

• Over the last few years, the Steel sector has been adversely impacted by the global steel glut which resulted in predatory pricing and a surge in steel imports into the country.

• Because of which, various projects failed and steel sector accounts for almost 30% of the non-performing assets of the banking industry.

• However, on account of timely intervention by the Government and industry through various trade related measures like anti-dumping and safeguards as well as other policy initiatives, the impact of the global glut were significantly mitigated.

Government Initiatives for Steel sector

• Steel being a de-regulated sector, the role of Government is that of a facilitator only.

• Government lays down the policy guidelines and establishes the institutional mechanism/structure for creating conducive environment for improving efficiency and performance of the steel sector.

• The Government has been proactive in ensuring adequate raw material availability at reasonable prices and explored ways of reducing input, logistic and infrastructure cost of Steel production.

• In order to provide level playing field to domestic steel sector, Government has taken various measures which are as under:

• In 2015, an Anti-Dumping Duty and a provisional safeguard duty was levied on imports of certain variety of products.

• In 2016, Government imposed Minimum Import Price (MIP) on many steel products. Government hiked import duty on various finished and semi-finished steel products.

• This year too, the government safeguarded the interests of domestic players by imposing a 4% additional dumping duty and a 1% countervailing duty.

• The Government has released the National Steel Policy 2017, which has laid down the broad roadmap for encouraging long-term growth for the Indian steel industry.

The National Steel Policy 2017 

• Policy was rolled out to enable the domestic steel industry to reach a capacity of 300 million tonnes (mt) by 2030-31 (against 126 mt now) through concept of Special Purpose Vehicle(SPV)  while setting global benchmarks in terms of quality and technology.

• The policy on preference to Domestically Manufactured Iron and Steel Products aims at facilitating consumption of domestic value-added steel in government procurement in sectors such as oil & gas, shipping, ports and airports.

• The policy mandates value addition of 15% on imported steel to qualify for bidding in government projects.

• Four mineral rich states namely Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka and Jharkhand have been identified for setting up of Integrated Steel Plants with the collaboration of Central and State PSUs through SPV route.

Steel sector: Year-2017

• The commencement of a long overdue restructuring of the Indian steel industry may be seen as one of the sectoral milestones of 2017.

• The year also saw two policy interventions by the government:

• aimed at boosting domestic production and

• consumption of value-added steel in government projects.

• Several steel companies, including some promoted by big corporate houses, were referred to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

• These happened at a time when the domestic industry regained its fundamentals amid strong export demand and a revival of the domestic market.

Benefits:

Increase in production: Production of finished steel grew by 8.5% over previous financial year whereas consumption grew by 2.6% in 2016-17.

Higher margins: In financial performance, steel firms have started realising higher operating margins on the back of improved domestic and international steel prices.

Domestic factor: Domestic prices improved significantly during the year. Value addition and increased branding saw a thrust from all major firm.

Increase in export: Exports amounted to 8.9 million tonnes in the first 10 months of calendar 2017, against imports of 6.6 million tonnes of finished steel. Indian exporters got a bigger export market at a time when overall sentiment was good. India was net exporter of steel in 2016-17.

Improvement in quality: Indian steelmakers also became more competitive during the year on grounds of quality and their deliveries. Many manufacturers harnessed advanced technology to augment quality.

Everything about Great White Pelican

Great White Pelican

• It is a bird in the pelican family.

• It is also known as the eastern white pelican, rosy pelican or white pelican.

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Geographic distribution

• It is mainly found in southeastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

Behaviour

• Northern populations of this species are fully migratory and travel via important stop-over sites. Other populations are sedentary, dispersive or nomadic, flying over land to seek suitable feeding locations.

• The species nests in large colonies of 200 to 40,000 pairs.

• It usually fishes in flocks of 8-12 individuals and migrates in large flocks of 50-500 individuals. The species regularly flies long distances from breeding or roosting colonies to feed, mostly fishing in the early-morning and early-evening.

Habitat

• The species is associated with relatively large, warm, shallow fresh, brackish, alkaline or saline lakes, lagoons, marshes, broad rivers, deltas, estuaries and coasts of landlocked seas.

• The species requires secure areas of extensive wet swamps, mudflats and sandbanks or gravel and rocky substrates for nesting.

Diet

• The species is entirely piscivorous, preferentially taking fish of between 300 and 600 g in weight.

Threats

The species is threatened by:

1 Habitat destruction through drainage

2 Divergence of rivers for irrigation, agriculture development and industry

3 Floods leading to the inundation of nesting sites

4 Persecution

5 Hunting for sport because of its (minimal) depredation of fish from fish-farms

6 Collisions with electric power lines during migration

7 Pesticides

8 Heavy metal contamination

Conservation Actions

The species is listed under:

• Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species

• Appendix II of the Bern Convention

• Annex I of the Birds Directive

• In its European range, it occurs within 43 Important Bird Areas.

• In the EU, it is listed within 108 Special Protection Areas.

• It has been rated as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red list of Endangered Species.

• It is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds is applied.

Everything about Kolleru Lake

Kolleru Lake

• It is the largest freshwater lake and is located in Andhra Pradesh.

• It is located between Krishna and Godavari delta and covers an area of 308 km².

• The lake serves as a natural flood-balancing reservoir for these two rivers.

• The lake is fed directly by water from the seasonal Budameru and Tammileru streams and is connected to the Krishna and Godavari systems by over 68 inflowing drains and channels.

• It serves as a habitat for migratory birds.

• It supports the livelihood of fishermen and riparian population in the area.

• The lake was notified as a wildlife sanctuary in November 1999 under India’s Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

• It has been designated as a wetland of international importance in November 2002 under the international Ramsar Convention.

Buxa Tiger Reserve:

Buxa Tiger Reserve:

  • It is located in Alipurduar district of West Bengal.
  • It was notified as a tiger reserve in 1983.
  • The tiger reserve has an area of about 758 sq km. Out of this, 390 sq km lies in the core area and 367 sq km in the buffer zone.
  • Some parts of the reserve share a border with Bhutan.
  • Human population- There are about 38 villages in Buxa and 49 villages in the fringe area.
  • Types of forests – It consists of moist, deciduous and evergreen forests.
  • Species Diversity- It has at least 68 species of mammals, 41 species of reptiles and more than 246 species of birds, four species of amphibians, 73 species of fishes and over a hundred species of butterflies and moths.

Tropic of Cancer 

Tropic of Cancer passes through below countries

N America

  • Mexico
  • Bahamas

Africa

  • Western Sahara
  • Mauritania
  • Mali
  • Algeria
  • Niger
  • Libya
  • Egypt

 Middle East

  • Saudi Arabia
  • UAE
  • Oman

Asia

  • India
  • Bangladesh
  • Myanmar
  • China
  • Taiwan

Equator

Equator: passes through below Countries

S America

  • Ecuador
  • Colombia
  • Brazil

 Africa –

  • Sao Tome & Principe
  • Gabon
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Uganda
  • Kenya
  • Somalia
  • Maldives

Asia –

  • Indonesia
  • Kiribati

Biomes of the World

Equatorial Zone

Equatorial rainforest – around equator

  • Amazon rainforest, Congo basin, and east indies
  • Uniform weather through out the year
  • Rains in the afternoons
  • Double rainfall peaks coinciding with the equinoxes
  • Canopy structure – layered trees
  • Epiphytes
  • Unfertile soil
  • Abundance of species
  • Difficult to penetrate the jungle
  • Cloud Forests – relates to Selvas
  • Hardwood trees – mahogany, rosewood, rubber, ebony etc.
  • Major Tribal groups :
    • Malaysia – Semang
    • Sumatra – Kubus
    • Borneo – Dayaks
    • Congo Basin – Pygmies
    • South America – Amazon Indians

 

Hot Zone

Desert

  • Evaporation exceeds precipitation
  • Hot desert – around west coasts, around offshore trade winds zone, cold ocean currents influence, hot days, cold nights
  • e.g.. Atacama desert, Sahara, great Australian desert, Mohave desert, Kalahari desert
  • Mid latitude desert – continentalism e.g.. Gobi desert / rain shadow e.g. Patagonia desert
  • Scanty rainfall
  • Large roots, wide spread shallow roots
  • Oil rich countries
  • Camel dependent
  • E.g. Dubai
  • Major Tribal groups
    • Western Sahara – Tuaregs
    • Arabian Desert – Bedouins
    • Kalahari – Bushmen
    • Australia – Bindibus

 

Savannah or Sudan/ tropical grassland

  • Africa – national geo shot
  • Masai – cattle pastoralist – on the run – cattle as their god
  • Hausa – settled cultivators
  • Tall grasses and short trees a.k.a elephant grass
  • Distinct weather – wet summer and Dry winter
  • Llanos – Venezuela
  • Campos – Brazil

 

Tropical monsoon

  • India
  • Dry, cold winter
  • Wet and humid summer
  • South west monsoon and retreating NE monsoon – seasonal reversal of winds
  • Broad leaves deciduous trees
  • Teak, sal, rosewood, bamboos, deodar

 

Tropical marine

  • Around east coasts, trade winds
  • Burma teak famous, spices, tea and coffee plantations, sugar cane, bamboo trees

 

Warm Temperate Zone

Warm temperate – Mediterranean

  • Med region, SFO, south Chile, south west Australia and Africa
  • Influenced by westerlies and movement of ITCZ
  • Hot summer and wet winter 
  • World’s orchard land
  • Known for wines, orchids and grapes – Viticulture
  • Sclerophyllous vegetation is best developed here
  • Walnut, Figs, Chestnut, Almond, Cedar are found
    • California – Chapparal
    • Europe – Maquis
    • South Africa – Fynbos

 

Steppe grassland – temperate grassland

  • Prairie – America
  • Pampas – Argentina
  • Pustaz – Hungary
  • Steppe – Russia
  • Veld – South Africa
  • Downs – Australia
  • Canterbury – NZ
  • Wheat and pastoral
  • Short grasses – dairy industry, cheese
  • Granaries of the world
  • Major Tribal Groups
    • Central Asia – Kirghiz
    • North America – Red Indians
    • South Africa – Hottentots

 

Eastern warm temperate – China type

  • Gulf type – SE America – Florida, NC, SC, Indiana etc.. , south Japan
  • natal type
  • Influenced by monsoon
  • Cotton, tobacco and corn in gulf
  • Rice in South East China
  • Affected by tropical cyclones and hurricanes
  • Mulberry thrives the best in this region

 

Cool Temperate Zone

Cool temperate – British type – temperate deciduous

  • Vancouver BC, Seattle areas, Britain
  • Four seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall
  • Deciduous trees
  • Salmon fish
  • Shed leaves
  • Oak, Elm, maple, beech and birch are the trees found here

 

Temperate evergreen/ coniferous/ boreal/ taiga

  • Around Southern Alaska, Canada, Siberia
  • East west stretch – largest biome on the land
  • Absent in southern hemisphere
  • Pine, spruce, fir trees – coniferous trees
  • Needle shaped trees
  • Olympic national park, Banff national park etc..
  • Soft wooded trees
  • Wood and pulp industry – lumbering

 

Eastern cool temperate – Laurentian type

  • NE America and north Japan
  • Greatest fishing zones of the world
  • Warm and cold current meet
  • Have best technologies in fishing
  • Absent in southern hemisphere – continent tapers down
  • Japan
    • Non agri land
    • Protein source of fish
    • Currents meet, technology in fishing

 

Cold Zone

Tundra

  • Around poles
  • Largest wetlands of the world
  • Northern Alaska, Northern Canada, Greenland and northern Russia
  • Frozen desert
  • Denali national park
  • Permafrost – Permanently frozen sub soil
  • Snow in winter, beautiful landscape in summer
  • Bugyals in Himalayas
  • Mosses, lichens, Rhododendrons

 

 

Marine

  • largest biome
  • most stable biome
  • covers 75% of Earth’s surface
  • provides majority of Earth’s food and oxygen

Asian Nature Conservation Foundation:

Asian Nature Conservation Foundation:

  • It was established in 1997 as a charitable trust.
  • It has its headquarters at the Innovation Centre office of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
  • It is a small group of conservation scientists, planners, information managers and administrators working together to support the conservation of biological diversity in India.
  • It is actively involved in the conservation of the Asian Elephant, considered to be a keystone species in the biologically rich forests of South and Southeast Asia.

Everything about OIL SPILL

OIL SPILL: 

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon or naturally extracted oil into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity and is a form of pollution.

Remedies:

1.Dispersant:

  • Dispersants are chemicals that when applied to oil floating on the surface greatly increases the rate of dispersal and breakdown of the oil. Dispersants assist the natural process where the mechanical action of the water can break down oil into small droplets.
  • Dispersants are categorised into:

Type 1: Hydrocarbon solvent-based dispersant used undiluted

Type 2: Concentrates, diluted 1:10 with water before use

Type 3: High efficacy concentrates used undiluted

2.Demulsifiers

  • These are chemicals used to separate oil and water. They can be used with dispersants when the type of oil prevents chemical dispersion.

3.Surface cleaners

  • Surface cleaners are chemicals that when applied to oil covered hard surfaces increase the rate of dispersal from the surface, aiding cleaning.

4.Bioremediation products

  • Bioremediation accelerates the natural degradation process through adding nutrients, micro-organisms, or both.

5.Oil Zapping:

  • Oil Zapping is a bio-remediation technique involving the use of ‘oil zapping’ bacteria.
  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has developed the oil zapping bacteria.
  • The Oil Zapping project was supported by the Department of Biotechnology (Government of India) and the Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • There are five different bacterial strains that are immobilized and mixed with a carrier material such as powdered corncob. This mixture of five bacteria is called Oil Zapper.
  • Oilzapper feeds on hydrocarbon compounds present in crude oil and the hazardous hydrocarbon waste generated by oil refineries, known as Oil Sludge and converts them into harmless CO2 and water.
  • The Oilzapper is neatly packed into sterile polythene bags and sealed aseptically for safe transport. The shelf life of the product is three months at ambient temperature.

6.Sorbents

  • Sorbents absorb oil and are usually in the form of powder, granules or beads.
  • They are either absorbent (they take some liquid into themselves) or adsorbent (forms a layer on the surface of the oil) materials and can be synthetic or natural, packaged or loose.

7.Degreasers

  • Degreasers are used for cleaning grease from machinery of ships and marine structures

Bharat Standard Norms

Bharat Standard Norms

  • Introduced in the year 2000, the Bharat norms are emission control standards put in place by the government to keep a check on air pollution.
  • Based on the European regulations (Euro norms), these standards set specifications/limits for the release of air pollutants from equipment using internal combustion engines, including vehicles. Typically, the higher the stage, the more stringent the norms.
  • The BS IV norms were introduced in 13 cities apart from the National Capital Region from April 2010.
  • Currently, BS IV fuel is being made available across the country in stages, with the entire nation expected to be covered by April1 2017.
  • Implementation of the BS V standard was earlier scheduled for 2019.
  • This has now been skipped.
  • BS VI, originally proposed to come in by 2024 has been now advanced to 2020, instead.

Why is it important?

  • Upgrading to stricter fuel standards helps tackle air pollution.
  • Global automakers are betting big on India as vehicle penetration is still low here, when compared to developed countries.
  • At the same time, cities such as Delhi are already being listed among those with the poorest air quality in the world.
  • With other developing countries such as China having already upgraded to the equivalent of Euro V emission norms a while ago, India has been lagging behind.
  • While BS IV-compliant fuel currently in use has 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, BS VI stipulates a low 10 ppm.
  • Besides, under BS VI, particulate matter emission for diesel cars and nitrogen oxide levels are expected to be substantially lower than in BS IV.
  • The experience of countries such as China and Malaysia (which is currently grappling with haze) shows that poor air quality can be bad for business.
  • Therefore, leapfrogging to BS VI can put India ahead in the race for investments too.
  • When BS VI norms are implemented, you can look forward to breathing in cleaner air in cities.
  • New vehicles sold from 2020 will have to be equipped with engines compliant with the new standards.
  • Besides, the government is also thinking about a ‘cash-for-clunkers’ scheme for scrapping old vehicles.
  • This will help owners of older and more polluting vehicles to upgrade to newer vehicles which use cleaner fuel, with a subsidy from the government.
  • Upgraded emission norms could also mean less fuel-guzzling vehicles.
  • On the flip side, the use of new technology means higher costs for automobile manufacturers.
  • And that, dear buyer, will be passed on to you when you look to upgrade to your next car.
  • Oil refiners too will need higher capital outlays to produce superior quality fuel and may look to pass on the bill to you.
  • But remember it’s for a good cause.

Air Pollution – Particulate Matter

Fine Particles, Particulate Matter 2.5:

  • Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is an air pollutant that is a concern for people’s health when levels in air are high.
  • PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated.
  • Outdoor PM2.5 levels are most likely to be elevated on days with little or no wind or air mixing.

What is Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5)?

  • The term fine particles, or particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width.
  • Outdoor air levels of fine particles increase during periods of stagnant air (very little wind and air mixing), when the particles are not carried away by wind, or when winds bring polluted air into the state from sources outside the state. In general, as the levels of PM2.5 in outdoor air increase, the air appears hazy and visibility is reduced.

Where does PM2.5 come from?

  • There are outdoor and indoor sources of fine particles.
  • Outside, fine particles primarily come from car, truck, bus and off-road vehicle (e.g., construction equipment, snowmobile, locomotive) exhausts, other operations that involve the burning of fuels such as wood, heating oil or coal and natural sources such as forest and grass fires. Fine particles also form from the reaction of gases or droplets in the atmosphere from sources such as power plants. As fine particles can be carried long distances from their source, events such as wildfires or volcanic eruptions can raise fine particle concentrations hundreds of miles from the event.
  • Some indoor sources of fine particles are tobacco smoke, cooking (e.g., frying, sautéing, and broiling), burning candles or oil lamps, and operating fireplaces and fuel-burning space heaters (e.g., kerosene heaters).

How can PM2.5 affect health?

  • Particles in the PM2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs.
  • Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath.
  • Studies also suggest that long term exposure to fine particulate matter may be associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, asthma, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease.
  • People with breathing and heart problems, children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM2.5.
  • Chronic exposure to high pollution is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and early labor in pregnant women and low birth weight.

International Treaties fro Hazardous Substance Management

Hazardous Substance Management

To promote safe management and use of hazardous substance in order to avoid damage to the health and env.

International conventions

  • Basel convention – control the transboundary mvmt of hazardous waste
    • Non binding agreement
    • Reduce the movement of hazardous waste between nations
    • Prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed country
    • USA, UK dumping e-waste in India, Pak and China
  • Rotterdam convention – Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for certain chemicals and pests in intl trade
    • Legally binding
    • Shared responsibility in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals
    • Like using proper labelling, directions on safe handling etc.
  • Stockholm convention – Persistent Organic pollutants (POP)
    • Legally binding
    • Under aegis of UNEP
    • POPs are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio accumulate through the food web and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment
  • Minamata convention on mercury 

Nature Conservation – International Treaties

Nature Conservation

Under Biodiversity conservation scheme, there are two main subcomponents

  • Bio Diversity
  • Bio Safety

 Bio Diversity

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

  • Legally binding
  • Aichi target 
  • India enacted the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 to give effect to the provisions of CBD.
  • National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was created to implement the provisions of BDA, 2002.
    • Located at Chennai
    • Autonomous body
    • Statutory body
    • Regulatory body
    • Decentralized – national, state and local
  • Nagoya protocol 
    • Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS)
    • Adopted under the aegis of CBD
    • Legally binding

 

Bio Safety

  • Cartagena Bio safety protocol
    • Under the aegis of CBD
    • Legally binding
    • Safe transfer, handling and use of Living Modified Organisms (LMO) resulting from modern biotech that may have adverse effect
    • Seeks to protect the world from GMOs resulting from modern biotech.
    • Advanced Informed Agreement – procedure to LMOs across border

CITES ( Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)

  • CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
  • Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.
  • It is an international agreement to which States (countries) adhere voluntarily. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.

Everything about CORAL BLEACHING:

CORAL BLEACHING:

  • Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
  • When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. This is called coral bleaching.
  • Algae are vital to the coral. Corals use the organic products of photosynthesis produced by algae to help it grow.

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  • The loss of algae makes the host vulnerable to disease and means it will eventually die.
  • However, coral can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to re-colonise them.
  • When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. Corals can survive a bleaching event, but if they are subject to more stress, they can eventually die.

CAUSES:

  • Environmentalists blame the burning of fossil fuels for global warming.
  • Farm run-off which is rich in fertilizers and other chemicals.
  • Development activities.
  •  The coral-eating starfish
  • Disease outbreaks

 The Need To Preserve Corals:

  • To protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms
  • To provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms
  • Corals are the source of nitrogen and other essential nutrients for marine food chains
  • They assist in carbon and nitrogen fixing
  • They also help with nutrient recycling.
  • The fishing industry depends on coral reefs because many fish spawn there and juvenile fish spend time there before making their way to the open sea
  • The Great Barrier Reef are also important for the economy and tourism.
  • The study of coral reefs is important for providing a clear, scientifically-testable record of climatic events over the past million years or so. This includes records of recent major storms and human impacts that are recorded by the changes in coral growth patterns.

Major Air Pollutants

Major Air Pollutants

Particulate matter (PM):

  • PM affects more people than any other pollutant.
  • The major components of PM are sulfate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water.
  • It consists of a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles of organic and inorganic substances suspended in the air.
  • The most health-damaging particles are those with a diameter of 10 microns or less, (≤ PM10), which can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs.
  • Chronic exposure to particles contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as of lung cancer.
    • Health effects:
  • There is a close, quantitative relationship between exposure to high concentrations of small particulates (PM10 and PM2.5) and increased mortality or morbidity, both daily and over time.
  • Small particulate pollution have health impacts even at very low concentrations – indeed no threshold has been identified below which no damage to health is observed.

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Ozone (O3):

  • Ozone at ground level – not to be confused with the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere – is one of the major constituents of photochemical smog.
  • It is formed by the reaction with sunlight (photochemical reaction) of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) from vehicle and industry emissions and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by vehicles, solvents and industry.
  • As a result, the highest levels of ozone pollution occur during periods of sunny weather.
    • Health effects:
  • Excessive ozone in the air can have a marked effect on human health.
  • It can cause breathing problems, trigger asthma, reduce lung function and cause lung diseases.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2): 

  • As an air pollutant, NO2 has several correlated activities.
  • At short-term concentrations exceeding 200 μg/m3, it is a toxic gas which causes significant inflammation of the airways.
  • NO2 is the main source of nitrate aerosols, which form an important fraction of PM2.5 and, in the presence of ultraviolet light, of ozone.
  • The major sources of anthropogenic emissions of NO2 are combustion processes (heating, power generation, and engines in vehicles and ships).
    • Health effects:
  • Epidemiological studies have shown that symptoms of bronchitis in asthmatic children increase in association with long-term exposure to NO2.
  • Reduced lung function growth is also linked to NO2.

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Sulfur dioxide (SO2):

  • SO2 is a colourless gas with a sharp odour.
  • It is produced from the burning of fossil fuels (coal and oil) and the smelting of mineral ores that contain sulfur.
  • The main anthropogenic source of SO2 is the burning of sulfur-containing fossil fuels for domestic heating, power generation and motor vehicles.
    • Health effects:
  • SO2 can affect the respiratory system and the functions of the lungs, and causes irritation of the eyes.
  • Inflammation of the respiratory tract causes coughing, mucus secretion, aggravation of asthma and chronic bronchitis and makes people more prone to infections of the respiratory tract.
  • Hospital admissions for cardiac disease and mortality increase on days with higher SO2 levels.
  • When SO2 combines with water, it forms sulfuric acid; this is the main component of acid rain which is a cause of deforestation.

Carbon monoxide: 

  • It comes from the burning of fossil fuels, mostly in cars. It cannot be seen or smelled.
    • Health effects:
  • Carbon monoxide makes it hard for body parts to get the oxygen they need to run correctly.
  • Exposure to carbon monoxide makes people feel dizzy and tired and gives them headaches.
  • In high concentrations it is fatal.
  • Elderly people with heart disease are hospitalized more often when they are exposed to higher amounts of carbon monoxide.

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Air Pollution

Causes of air pollution:

  • Diesel vehicles are more polluting than petrol
  • They are high in PM, Nitrogen oxide not good for health
  • Ban 10 year old diesel truck entering city
  • Vehicular emissions
  • Dust emissions from construction work, thermal power plants etc..
  • Burning of wastes etc..

Major pollutants:

  • Benzene – byproduct of burning diesel.
    • It is carcinogen  (cancer causing tissue)..
    • Short term inhaling causes drowsiness, headaches
    • Long term inhaling causes disorders like anemia
    • Effect on reproductive system on women and foetus
  • Nitrogen di oxide 
    • From vehicle emission and coal based power plants
    • Lung infection and respiratory allergies
  • Carbon mono oxide 
    • Unborn babies, infants, elderly are at risk
  • Particulate matter 
    • Dust to dirt and soot
    • PM 2.5 > PM 10 (dangerous for human health, respiratory system)

How to avoid?

  • Use public transportation
  • Car pool
  • Increase car tax during vehicle registration
  • Put a cap on number of cars registered per year in the city
  • Increase parking charges
  • Lay more convenient roads for walking and biking
  • Introduce congestion charges to avoid traffic [ congestion charge is a tax you pay to drive your private vehicles in certain zones of the city].. Cities like Singapore and London has them implemented
  • Smoke emission report has to be checke

Gangetic Dolphin

  • Dolphins are one of the oldest creatures in the world along with some species of turtles, crocodiles and sharks.
  • Platanista gangetica , the biological name of the Gangetic river dolphin, also called the “blind” river dolphin or the “side-swimming dolphin” is unique to India and an endangered species.
  • Ganges river dolphins once lived in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
  • But the species is extinct from most of its early distribution ranges.
  • The Ganges river dolphin can only live in freshwater and is essentially blind.
  • They hunt by emitting ultrasonic sounds, which bounces off of fish and other prey, enabling them to “see” an image in their mind.
  • The Ganges River dolphin is threatened by removal of river water and siltation arising from deforestation, pollution and entanglement in fisheries nets.
  • In addition, alterations to the river due to barrages are also separating populations
  • This dolphin is among the four “obligate” freshwater dolphins – the other three are the baiji now likely extinct from the Yangtze river in China, the bhulan of the Indus in Pakistan and the boto of the Amazon River in Latin America.
  • River Dolphin is the National Aquatic Animal of India.

Amur Falcons

  • Amur falcons are the longest travelling raptors in the world. They weigh just 150 grams
  • Males are mostly grey in colour and the females have dark-streaked cream or orange underparts.
  • The species flies non-stop from Mongolia to northeast India covering 5,600 km in five days and nights, a small part of its 22,000 km circular migratory journey.
  • The birds halt briefly in Myanmar. After a month or so, they reach central and western India en route to South Africa.
  • Until recently, Naga tribesmen used to hunt thousands of Amur falcons for meat. But, after a vigorous campaign by wildlife activists, they have pledged to protect the bird and since then, not a single bird has been hunted in the area.
  • Wokha district of Nagaland is a declared second home of the Amur falcons.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations.
  • It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.
  • Created in 1948, IUCN has evolved into the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network.
  • IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
  • The organization is best known to the wider public for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide.
  • Through their affiliation with IUCN, Member organisations are part of a democratic process, voting Resolutions which drive the global conservation agenda.
  • They meet every four years at the IUCN World Conservation Congress to set priorities and agree on the Union’s work programme.
  • IUCN congresses have produced several key international environmental agreements including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the World Heritage Convention, and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands.
  • Headquartered in Switzerland, IUCN Secretariat comprises around 950 staff in more than 50 countries.

Biodiversity hotspots

Biodiversity hotspots?

  • Biodiversity hotspots are a method to identify those regions of the world where attention is needed to address biodiversity loss and to guide investments in conservation.
  • The idea was first developed by Norman Myers in 1988 to identify tropical forest ‘hotspots’ characterized both by exceptional levels of plant endemism and serious habitat loss, which he then expanded to a more global scope.
  • Conservation International adopted Myers’ hotspots as its institutional blueprint in 1989, and in 1999, the organization undertook an extensive global review which introduced quantitative thresholds for the designation of biodiversity hotspots.
  • A reworking of the hotspots analysis in 2004 resulted in the system in place today.

To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria:

  • It must have at least 1,500 vascular plants as endemics — which is to say, it must have a high percentage of plant life found nowhere else on the planet. A hotspot, in other words, is irreplaceable.
  • It must have 30% or less of its original natural vegetation. In other words, it must be threatened or lost more than 70% its primary vegetation.
  • Around the world, 35 areas qualify as hotspots.
  • They represent just 2.3% of Earth’s land surface, but they support more than half of the world’s plant species as endemics — i.e., species found no place else — and nearly 43% of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian

What is Green Climate Fund?

What is Green Climate Fund?

  • The Fund is a unique global platform to respond to climate change by investing in low-emission and climate-resilient development.
  • GCF was established by 194 governments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in developing countries, and to help vulnerable societies adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
  • Given the urgency and seriousness of this challenge, the Fund is mandated to make an ambitious contribution to the united global response to climate change.
  • The Copenhagen Accord, established during the 15th Conference Of the Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen in 2009 mentioned the “Copenhagen Green Climate Fund”.
  • The fund was formally established during the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun and is a fund within the UNFCCC framework.
  • Its governing instrument was adopted at the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa.
  • GCF is accountable to the United Nations.
  • It is guided by the principles and provisions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • It is governed by a Board of 24 members, comprising an equal number of members from developing and developed countries.
  • The GCF is based in the new Songdo district of Incheon, South Korea.
  • It is intended to be the centrepiece of efforts to raise Climate Finance of $100 billion a year by 2020.
  • The Green Climate Fund is the only stand-alone multilateral financing entity whose sole mandate is to serve the Convention and that aims to deliver equal amounts of funding to mitigation and adaptation.

National Mission for Clean Ganga

  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementation wing of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
  • It is a registered society originally formed by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change(MoEFCC) on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • Now both NGRBA and NMCG are allocated to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation(MoWR,RD &GR).
  • As per the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), the mandate of NGRBA is being implemented by, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).
  • At national level NMCG is the coordinating body and is being supported by States Level Program Management Groups (SPMGs) of UP, Uttarakhand, Bihar and West Bengal which, are also registered as societies under Societies Registration Act, 1860 and a dedicated Nodal Cell in Jharkhand.
  • The area of operation of NMCG shall be the Ganga River Basin, including the states through which Ganga flows, as well as the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
  • The NMCG has been a registered society since 2012 and its role is largely to fund projects to implementing organisations. It didn’t have legal powers to “tackle various threats” or issue directions to polluters.
  • The NMCG, which now has the status of an Authority, will have a two-tier management structure with a governing council to be chaired by a Director General. There will also be State-level committees.
  • A key focus of the authority will be maintaining required ecological flows in the Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.

Kashmir’s Red stag

  • In order to get more attention and protection to Kashmir’s Red stag, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has decided to put Red Stag on the critically endangered species list.
  • It is listed under Schedule-I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and J&K Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978 and has also been listed among the top 15 species of high conservation priority by the Government of India.
  • The cited reasons for the decline in its population are said to be habitat destruction, over-grazing by domestic livestock, and poaching.

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

  • India is a signatory to Ramsar convention
  • Intergovernmental treaty
  • Conservation and wise use of wetlands and its resources
  • Adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar
  • Transboundary Ramsar Sites
  • Changwon declaration – ensuring human well being
  • Montreax Records
    • Loktak Lake, Manipur (largest fresh water lake in NE) –
      • Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India, and is famous for the phumdis (heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matter at various stages of decomposition) floating over it.
      • Keibul Lamjao is the only floating national park in the world. It is located near Moirang in Manipur state, India. The Keibul Lamjao National Park is the last natural refuge of the endangered sangai. However, human activity has led to severe pressure on the lake ecosystem.
    • Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan

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Olive ridley Turtles

Also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, Olive turtles are a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

  • They are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers.
  • Known as aribada
  • The olive ridley is classified as Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
  • The Convention on Migratory Species and the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles have also provided olive ridleys with protection, leading to increased conservation and management for this marine turtle

Sumatran Rhino

  • Critically endangered species
  • Smallest of all rhinos and the only Asian variety with two horns
  • They are born covered in shaggy, reddish brown fur
  • Its nick name is Hairy rhino
  • They once roamed the vast, dense forests of Sumatra, Borneo and Malaysia but land-clearing and poaching have devastated their numbers.
  • In Sumatra, there are also small clusters in the west and the island’s northern Leuser ecosystem — the last place on Earth where wild rhinos, orangutans, tigers and elephants roam together.

Invasive Species: Seemai Karuvelam tree

  • Native to west Africa
  • Sucks water leading to ground water depletion
  • Invasive species
  • No other species of plant can co exist along with it
  • Used for fuel wood
  • Scientific name : prosopis julifora

What are invasive species? #upsc #ias

  • An invasive species is a non native organism that causes ecological harm after being introduced to a new environment.
  • Humans are responsible for the spread of a majority of earth’s invasive species, often carrying them to different parts of the world on ships.
  • Once they enter a new ecosystem, invasive species can outcompete native organisms for resources like food, especially if they lack natural predators.
  • Some invasive species also carry diseases that kill native organisms, and many will consume native plants and animals.
  • Invasive species can ultimately cause the decline or extinction of native species, decreasing biodiversity in an ecosystem.