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Urban Forest Programme – Rajya Sabha TV – RSTV IAS UPSC

  • IASbaba
  • July 7, 2020
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Urban Forest Programme

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TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Environment and Conservation
  • Climate Change

In News: Union Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar launched the Urban Forest program on the occasion of World Environment Day on 5th June.

  • Despite all constraints, the country has managed to preserve around 8 per cent of the world’s biodiversity through its rich culture of worshipping and nurturing every aspect of mother nature.
  • The country believes in the principle of Prithvi Rakshti Rakshatah , which means Mother Nature protects those who protect her.

The main aim behind celebrating this day is to raise awareness to protect nature and look at various environmental issues. The theme for this year’s Environment day is Biodiversity.

India is endowed with rich biodiversity having several species of animals and plants and hosts 4 of the 35 global bio-diversity hotspots containing several endemic species. However, increasing population, deforestation, urbanisation and industrialisation have put our natural resources under tremendous pressure causing loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity is vital for survival of all life form on this planet and is a key to providing various ecological services. Biodiversity conservation has traditionally been considered confined to remote forest areas but with increasing urbanisation a need has arisen to safeguard and save biodiversity in urban areas also. Urban forest is the best way to bridge this gap.

Urban Forest Programme or “Nagar Van”

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar launched the Nagar Van or Urban Forests with 200 corporations and cities across India. 

  • Trees would be planted in those parts of urban areas which have been marked as forest lands but do not have any tree cover
  • Both the State government and the concerned Municipal Corporation will coordinate with each other to execute this plan
  • Tree plantation and soil moisture conservation works as a core strategy for biodiversity conservation in the country. This will help address the problems of soil degradation, siltation and reduced water flow in the river basins.

In recent decades, cities and towns have been a prime centre of urbanization, globalization and population upsurge. This growing population is leading to increased demands and pressure on the existing resources. Human activities are resulting in the deterioration of our environment and that is evident from the situation that we are facing right now.

An urban forest is a collection of trees that grow within a city, town or a suburb including any kind of woody plant vegetation growing in and around human settlements.

  • Mitigate the effects of urban heat island through evapotranspiration and the shading of streets and buildings. This improves human comfort, reduces the risk of heat stroke and decreases costs to cool buildings.
  • Improve air quality by absorbing pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, and particulate matter as well as performing carbon sequestration.
  • Urban forest can be an important tool for flood management as trees absorb and store rainwater through the canopy, and slow down and filter runoff with their roots
  • Actions for nature means a lower risk of future pandemics, achieving the sustainable development goal, slowing climate change, healthier lives, better economies, being able to cherish that breath of fresh air or walk in the woods protecting life itself.

The Minister also highlighted the success of Wajre Urban forest in the city of Pune, Maharashtra which has been developed on a 40 acre degraded land area. Today, the forest is rich in biodiversity with 23 plant species, 29 bird species, 15 butterfly species, 10 reptiles and 3 mammal species. This Urban Forest project is now helping maintain ecological balance, serving both environmental and social needs. The Warje Urban Forest is now a role model for the rest of the country.

Other actions by the Government

India currently spends about $2 billion per year on biodiversity conservation efforts

  • Legislations
    • Wildlife Protection act 1972
    • Biological diversity act
    • Forest conservation act 1980
  • Institutions
    • National Green Tribunal
    • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau
    • National Tiger Conservation Authority
    • Laboratory for conservation of endangered species. 
  • Regulations
    • Banned diclofenac drug that were killing vultures
  • Biodiversity governance
    • E-Surveillance
    • ~47, 000 crore funding under CAMPA to states for forest conservation. 
  • Awareness
    • Hati mere Saathi 
    • Green budgeting
  • Judicial activism

SC in 

    • Dehradun quarrying case (1998) recognised right to live in healthy environment as part of art 21.
    • MC Mehta case – right to live in pollution free environment is par to life.
    • Vellore citizens welfare forum case – polluters pay principle are essential for sustainable development 
    • Uttarakhand High Court declared River Ganga and Yamuna as living entity. 

Global efforts to reduce biodiversity loss

  • Convention on Biological Diversity – signed during the Earth Summit in 1992. It focuses not only on conserving biodiversity but also on sustainable use of biological resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising from its use.
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) – an international treaty which is designed to protect wild plants and animals affected by international trade. 
  • Ramsar Convention – It provides a framework for international cooperation for the conservation of wetland habitats.
  • Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals – or the Bonn Convention aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. 
  • The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture – the objectives are the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security. 
  • International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) – aims to protect world plant resources, including cultivated and wild plants. The convention provides the mechanisms to develop the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), and to help countries to implement the ISPMs.
  • Basel Convention – It is designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs).

Connecting the Dots:

  1. Essay: We need nature more than nature needs us, if at all
  2. In a post COVID world, we need to protect the planet to protect ourselves. Discuss.
  3. Explain the concept of biodiversity as a scarce resource. What are the ongoing and potential impacts of biodiversity loss on the resource front? Examine.  

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