According to International Union for conservation of Nature and Natural resources (IUCN), A protected area is ‘A clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal, or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.’
a. Protected areas are specially demarcated areas for the purpose of preserving the naturally occurring life forms-both plants and animals.
b. Protected areas are developed when a species is under threat from external predation of invasive species or unchecked human activity.
c. The protection of the area is legally enabled and makes provisions for the government of the region to take action against any intruders indulging in activities that may be damaging the flora and fauna of the region.
IUCN protected areas include: 1. National parks 2. Wildlife sanctuaries 3. Conservation reserves 4. Community reserves 5. Biosphere reserves.
Category # 1. National Park:
It is a relatively large area of one or several ecosystems that have not been materially altered by human exploitation and occupation, where plant and animal species, geomorphological sites and habitats are of special scientific, educational, and recreational interest or which contain a natural landscape of great beauty.
It is an area having adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural or zoological significance. They are provided statutory legal protection.
Major National Parks of India:
Situated in Tamil Nadu.
Habitat of Porcupine (Endangered)
Situated in Madhya Pradesh
Habitat of White Tiger (Endangered)
Situated in Karnataka
Habitat of Asian elephant (Endangered)
4. Balphakram National Park:
It is located at the extreme South of Garo Hills, Meghalaya, close to the international boundary of Bangladesh.
Compared to the Grand Canyon national park of USA, and is referred to as the “abode of perpetual winds” as well as the “land of spirits”.
It’s the home to barking deer and the golden cat.
Animals include wild water buffalo, red panda, elephant and eight species of cats including tiger and marbled cat.
Situated in Odisha
Habitat of Olive Ridley Turtle (Endangered).
6. Bannerghatta National Park:
Located in Karnataka, near Bengaluru.
Famous for butterflies, Sambhar (Endangered)
7. Button Island National Park:
These are the North, Middle and South Button Island National Parks in the vicinity of Port Blair.
8. Coringa National Park:
It is located in the East Godavari district (Near Kakinada) of AP.
Habitat of saltwater crocodile.
Situated in Tamil Nadu
Habitat for Flamingo (Endangered)
Situated in Uttar Pradesh
Habitat to Tiger (Endangered)
11. Dachigam National Park:
It is located about 20 km east of Srinagar (J&K).
It is the habitat to Hangul (Endangered), musk deer, leopard, wildcat, numerous birds.
12. Desert National Park:
It is located in the Jaisalmer district, Rajasthan, and home to Chinkara, blackbuck, Great Indian Bustard (Endangered Species).
13. Eravikulam National Park:
Located in Idukki district of Kerala
It’s to protect the Nilgiri Tahr, an endangered species of the wild goat.
14. Fossil National Park:
It is located in the southeastern part of MP in the Mandla District.
15. Gir National Park:
It is located in the southern part of Kathiawad Penisula in the Gir and Girnar Hills region, home for the Asiatic Lion.
16. Great Himalayan Park:
It is in the Kullu district of HP. Habitat to Musk-deer, Snow leopard, flying squirrel, bharal (blue sheep).
Situated in Jammu & Kashmir
Habitat to Snow Leopard (Endangered)
18. Kanha National Park:
Situated in Madhya Pradesh
Came into being in 1995 and forms the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve, created in 1974 under project Tiger.
Saved rare hard ground Swamp Deer (Barasingha), from near extinction.
19. Kangerghati National Park:
It is located in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, home to rare mouse deer.
20. KeibulLamJao National Park:
It is located in the south-eastern region of the Loktak Lake, Manipur, home to endangered Brow-antlered deer. It is the only floating park of the world.
Situated in Assam
Habitat to One-horned Rhino (Endangered)
Situated in Rajasthan
Home to Siberian Crane (Endangered)
23. Marine National Park:
Located in the Jamnagar district
It is declared as the first marine park of the country in 1982.
24. Madhav National Park:
It is located in the northern part of MP in Shivpuri district.
25. MG Marine National Park:
Lit is located at Wandoor on the Andaman Islands.
26. Nandankanan National Park:
It is located near Bhubaneswar in Orissa, and is known for rare white tigers.
Situated in Arunachal Pradesh
Home to Clouded Leopard (Endangered)
Situated in Andhra Pradesh
Home to Pelican (Endangered)
Situated in Kerala
Home to Crocodile (Endangered)
30. Pench National Park:
It is located in Seoni and Chhindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh.
Its name is derived from the Pench River that flows through the park from north to south dividing it into almost equal western and eastern halves. Declared a sanctuary in 1977 but raised to the status of national park in 1983. In 1992, it was established as a tiger reserve.
31. Ranthambore National Park:
It is situated in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan.
It is one of the largest national parks in north India.
It is bounded in the north by the Banas River and in the south by the Chambal River.
Ranthambhore fortress, lies within the park.
It is known for tigers.
32. Raj Mala:
Situated in Kerala
Home to Nilgiri Tahr (Endangered)
33. Rann of Kachchh:
Situated in Gujarat
Home to Wild Ass (Endangered)
34. Ranganthittu National Park:
Located on the banks of Kaveriin Mandya district, Karnataka
35. Sultanpur National Park:
It is located in the Gurgaon district of Haryana. Known for migratory and local birds
36. Salim Ali National Park:
Located in the Valley of Kashmir, formerly known as the City Forest National Park
37. Silent Valley National Park:
Located in the Kundali hills of the Western ghats (Nilgiris) in the
Palakkad district, Kerala Lion-Tailed Macaque (Endangered Species)
38. VanVihar National Park:
Located in the heart of Bhopal city, MP
It is located in Kerala.
Home to Indian Muntjac (Endangered)
Category # 2. Wildlife Sanctuary:
It is an area similar to National park but is dedicated to provide protection to the wild life and concerned species, also called as wild life refuge.
It is officially designated through government legislation and may permit certain rights to people living inside the Sanctuary
Sanctuary and National Park:
The difference between a Sanctuary and a National Park mainly lies in the vesting of rights of people living inside. Unlike a Sanctuary, where certain rights can be allowed, in a National Park, no rights are allowed. No grazing of any livestock shall also be permitted inside a National Park it may be regulated, controlled or prohibited.
In addition, while any removal or exploitation of wildlife or forest produce from a Sanctuary requires the recommendation of the State Board for Wildlife, similarly, from a National Park requires recommendation of the National Board for Wildlife.
Major Wildlife Sanctuaries of India:
1. Askot Musk Deer:
It is located 54 km from Pithoragarh near Askot in Uttarakhand.
Musk deer (Moschus leucogaster) is its habitat.
It includes the leopard, jungle cat, civet cat, barking deer, serow, goral brown bear, and high altitude birds.
It is located along the coast in Kendrapada district of Orissa.
3. Bhagwan Mahaveer:
Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park are located in the Western Ghats in Goa, east of Panaji.
Located in the Garo Hills, Meghalaya
Situated near Point Calimere (Kaveri Delta) in the Nagapattinam district, TN
Located in Varanasi, UP
7. Gahirmatha Turtle:
Located along the coast of Kendrapada district, Orissa
Located in South Tripura Region, this sanctuary is home to animals like elephants, sambar, buffalo, yapping deer, serow, wild goat and many more.
Reptiles have additionally discovered a home in the sanctuary.
Located at the foothills of Eastern Himalayas in Jalpaiguri district, WB
It is located in the Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh.
It got established in 1981 to protected Great Indian Bustard.
It is in the process of being denotified due to opposition by the local people and the extinction of local birds.
It is located on the foothills of the Himalayas, between the Teesta and Mahananda rivers, in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal.
It was started as a game sanctuary in 1955, and in 1959, got the status of a sanctuary to protect the Indian Bison and Royal Bengal Tiger.
Located in Kerala around Agastyamalai Peak
Established in 1952, is located in Andhra Pradesh 50km from Warangal city.
Located about 60km east of Guwahati in Assam, in the Morigaon district
Declared sanctuary in 1971 to protect one- horned Rhinoceros
Located in the Coimbatore district of TN
16. Periyar National Park:
It is located in the districts of Idukki, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta in Kerala.
It is notable as an elephant reserve and a tiger reserve.
It is also called as the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary/ Thekkady.
17. Wild Ass:
It is located in the Rann of Kutch, Gujarat. Habitat of Wild Ass
Category # 3. Conservation Reserves:
It is an area specially set aside under law to protect some inherent environmental value present in them. Development and use of conservation reserve is usually restricted only to those activities, which are compatible with conservation of environmental values.
The State Governments declares it in any area, particularly the areas adjacent to National Parks and Sanctuaries and which link one protected area with another. Conservation Reserves are declared for the purpose of protecting landscape, seascape, flora and fauna in their habitat.
Such declaration should be made after consultation with the local communities. The rights of people living inside a Conservation Reserve are not affected.
Category # 4. Community Reserves:
Community Reserves can be declared by the State Government in any private or community land not comprised within a National Park, Sanctuary or a Conservation Reserve, where an individual or a community has volunteered to conserve wildlife and its habitat.
Community Reserves are declared for the purpose of protecting fauna, flora, traditional or cultural conservation values and practices. Similar to Conservation Reserve, the rights of people living inside a Community Reserve are not affected.
In India community reserves are located only in 4 states; they are Punjab, Meghalaya, Karnataka, and Kerala. Out of 26 reserves 22 are in Meghalaya.
Reserved Forest & Protected Forest:
These are forested -lands where human activity (like hunting, logging, grazing etc.) may be permitted on a sustainable basis. Declared by the state governments (unlike Wildlife Sanctuaries/ National Parks).
The key difference between Reserved Forests and Protected Forests is that in Reserved Forests, explicit permission is required for such activities whereas in Protected Forests such activities are permitted unless explicitly prohibited.
Preservation plots are miniature nature reserves intended for the conservation of the natural flora and fauna of a region. They are set up with the motive of meeting the targets set by UN and other international bodies like – Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nation Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC).
Sacred Groves and Lakes:
Sacred groves are the forest patches ranging from one acre to about hundreds of acres.
It is a common practice among the tribe’s and forest dwellers. These groves consist of local biodiversity including flora, fauna and microorganisms.
These are revered by the local people and are dedicated equivalent of natural sanctuaries where all forms of living creatures are given protection by a deity. No one is permitted to cut any tree or plant, kill animals and birds, or harm any form of life in this area.
These sacred groves act as microhabitats of rich biodiversity. The sacred groves are damaged in some areas due to change in social values and religious belief as a result of modernization, industrialization and urbanization.
Sacred Lakes are the lakes looked by the people with reverence. Lakes are revered spiritually; such lakes are protected of its flora and fauna. The aquatic flora and fauna are conserved due to such practices.
Category # 5. Biosphere Reserve:
Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
They are internationally recognized, nominated by national governments and remain under sovereign jurisdiction of the nations where they are located.
Biosphere reserves serve as ‘living laboratories’ for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity.
Collectively, biosphere reserves form a world network known as the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).
Within this network, exchange of information, experience and personnel are facilitated. There are over-500 biosphere reserves in over 100 countries.
i. Biosphere Reserve Concept:
A Biosphere Reserve is a unique and representative ecosystem of terrestrial and coastal areas, which are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) Program.
Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB):
The origin of Biosphere Reserves goes back to the “Biosphere Conference” organized by UNESCO in 1968.
This Conference resulted in the launching of the UNESCO “Man and the Biosphere” (MAB) Program.
Launched in 1971, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) is an Intergovernmental Scientific Program that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationship between people and their environments.
It consisted of establishing a coordinated World Network of sites representing the main ecosystems of the planet in which genetic resources would be protected, and where research on ecosystems as well as monitoring and training work could be carried out. These sites were named as “Biosphere Reserves”, in reference to the MAB program itself.
MAB’s work engages fully with the international development agenda especially with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post 2015 Development Agenda- and address challenges linked to scientific, environmental, societal and development issues in diverse ecosystems.
MAB combines natural sciences, social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihood and the equitable sharing of benefits, and to safeguard natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate, and environmentally sustainable.
The MAB program provides a unique platform for cooperation on research and development, capacity building and networking to share information, knowledge and experience on three interlinked issues biodiversity loss, climate change and sustainable development.
As of 2016 total membership had reached 669 biosphere reserves and includes 16 trans boundary sites in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Myanmar had its first biosphere reserve inscribed in 2015.
Zonation of Biosphere Reserves:
Biosphere reserves are typically divided into three zones:
1. Core Areas (for conservation):
It is dedicated to conservation, non-destructive research, low-impact uses like ecotourism and education.
2. Buffer Areas (for sustainable use):
These adjoin areas of core zone and are used for cooperative activities to protect core zone, basic and applied research, and education.
3. Transition Area or Areas of Cooperation (equitable sharing of benefits):
These are outer zones of buffer area and have no boundaries. They include settlement, agriculture fields and other activities of economic uses and are meant for equitable sharing of benefits.
The objective of dividing biosphere reserves into zones is to enable in-situ and ex-situ conservation, incentives for conservation and sustainable use, research and training, awareness and education, impact assessment, regulating access to genetic resources, access and transfer of technology, and provisions of financial resources.
Functions of Biosphere Reserves:
Each biosphere reserve is intended to fulfill 3 basic functions, which are complementary and mutually reinforcing:
1. Conservation Function:
To contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation;
Biosphere reserves aims to achieve integrated management of land, water and living resources, by adopting bioregional planning schemes, based on integrating conservation of biological diversity into sustainable development.
2. Development Function:
It is to foster economic and human development, which is sociocultural and ecologically sustainable.
The zonation of BRs includes strictly protected core areas, typically surrounded by buffer zones where conservation is emphasized, but where people are residing and working, the core area is surrounded by a transition zone, or area of cooperation, which promotes sustainable development.
3. Logistic Function:
To provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development.
Biosphere reserves serve as “living laboratories” for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity.
Out of total 18 Biosphere reserves in India; the first 10 (1 to 10) are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
a. Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve:
The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR), the first of the fourteen biosphere reserves of India, was established in September 1986.
The largest south Indian population of elephant, tiger, gaur, sambar and chital as well as a good number of endemic and endangered plants are also found in this reserve.
b. Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve:
The major forest types of the reserve are temperate. A few important species are silver weed and orchids like latifolie and rhododendron. The biosphere reserve has a rich fauna, like the snow leopard, black bear, brown bear, musk deer, snow cock, golden eagle and black eagle.
Major threats to the ecosystem are the collection of endangered plants for medicinal use, forest fires and poaching.
c. Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve:
It is located in the swampy delta of the river Ganga in West Bengal and consists of mangrove forests, swamps and forested islands.
Sunderbans is the home of nearly 200 Royal Bengal tigers.
The tangled mass of roots of mangrove trees provides safe homes for a large number of species. More than 170 bird species are known to inhabit these mangrove forests.
d. Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve:
The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve is located on the southeast coast of India. The biosphere reserve comprises 21 islands with estuaries, beaches, and forests of the near shore environment, sea grasses, coral reefs, salt marshes and mangroves.
Among the Gulf’s 3,600 plant and animal species are the globally endangered sea cow (Dugong dugong) and six mangrove species endemic to Peninsular India.
Conservation of Biodiversity:
The Government of India along with 155 other nations signed the Convention of biodiversity at the Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 1992.
The world conservation strategy has suggested the following steps for biodiversity conservation:
(i) Efforts should be made to preserve the species that are endangered.
(ii) Prevention of extinction requires proper planning and management.
(iii) Varieties of food crops forage plants, timber trees, livestock, animals and their wild relatives should be preserved;
(iv) Each country should identify habitats of wild relatives and ensure their protection.
(v) Habitats where species feed, breed, rest and nurse their young should be safeguarded and protected.
(vi) International trade in wild plants and animals is regulated.
To protect, preserve and propagate the variety of species within natural boundaries, the Government of India passed the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, under which national parks and sanctuaries were established and biosphere reserves declared.
There are some countries, which are situated in the tropical region; they possess a large number of the world’s species diversity. They are called mega diversity centers.
There are 12 such counties, namely Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia in which these centers are located.
In order to concentrate resources, on these areas that are most vulnerable, the International Union of the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has identified certain areas as biodiversity hotspots.
Hotspots are defined according to their vegetation. Plants are important because these determine the primary productivity of an ecosystem.