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Freshwater Wildlife Continues to Decline but New Energy Trend lines Suggest We Can Bend That Curve

The Editorial covers GS paper 3 [Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.]

Wildlife in decline: Earth's vertebrates fall 58% in past four decades :  Nature News & Comment

Context

The Living Planet Report 2020 states that the world is steadily losing its vertebrate population. The Asia Pacific region lost 45 percent of its vertebrate population in four-and-half decades, while the global average is 68 percent.

What is the status of the loss of vertebrates in India?

  • India has lost 12 percent of its wild mammals, 19 percent amphibians and 3 percent birds over the last five decades.

  • Out of about 1.02 lakh animal species, as found in India till December 2019, about 6,800 are vertebrates. Among these, nearly 550 fall in critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable categories.

  • The vertebrate population has been declining at a rate of about 60 per cent in India, a figure close to the global benchmark.

What are the factors for the decline?

  • Changes in land and sea use (habitat loss and degradation):

    • Almost a third of Indian wetlands have been affected under the combined pressure of urbanization, agricultural activities and pollution.

    • Habitat fragmentation is often catering to creation of small population pockets of animals and leads to inbreeding; thus affecting the population’s viability.

    • India has 4 percent global land share, about eight percent global biodiversityand around 16 percent global population. There is an enormous human footprint, which in turn is affecting biodiversity.

    • India’s ecological footprint per person to be less than 1.6 global hectares (gha) / person (smaller than that of many large countries). However its high population size has made the gross footprint significantly high.

    • India has a bio-capacity of approximately 0.45 gha per person, which means it is a ‘bio-capacity debtor’ or an ‘ecologically deficit country’ with a 148 per cent more demand than supply on its natural resources.

  • Overexploitation of species.

  • Invasive species and disease.

  • Pollution.

  • Climate Change.

 

Conclusion

The WWF India factsheet also put up data to highlight how forest land has been diverted and has been affecting biodiversity. In the first six months of 2019, of the 240 proposals seeking diversion of forest land, 98.99 per cent of forest land considered for diversion was allowed to be put to non-forestry uses. This is leading to fragmentation of the habitats and biodiversity loss.

 

Source: Forbes.



 
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