CHENNAI: Biodiversity is everybody’s business and all of us have to come together to conserve it,” stressed B Meenakumari, chairperson of the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), while speaking at the Biodiversity Connect Media Workshop at The Residency Towers, T Nagar recently. The workshop focussed on National Biodiversity Targets (NBT) and the National Biodiversity Act (NB Act) and its relevance in fields like economy, health, agriculture and forestry.
“For the betterment of biodiversity,” said Meenakumari, “Technical capacity needs to be built, opportunities and constraints need to be assessed, budget allocation should be increased and most importantly, awareness should be created about its contribution towards social and economic development.”
T Rabikumar, IFS and secretary of NBA, declared that though the country still has a lot to do locally, we are one of the leaders globally. India is one the recognised mega-biodiversity countries and is home to 7-8% of the total recorded species.
“The Government of India spends `17-18 crores just to hold on to what we have. Around 27 ministries contribute towards saving biodiversity, and a lot more is required to chronicle and augment it,” said Rabikumar, adding that we need to keep habitats of various species intact because if we lose biodiversity, the worst affected will be the marginalised sections of society.
A recent report by Kew Gardens confirmed that around 31,000 plant species were used by humans worldwide and a large proportion was used for healthcare.
Darshan Shankar, vice chancellor, Transdisciplinary University, Bangalore, said the roots of healthcare lie in biological resources, and praised the Ministry of Environment and Forests for making the largest global effort to conserve wild medicinal plants across the country. India has around 110 medicinal plant-conservation areas in natural habitats — the largest in the world.
“India does not have a sustainable agricultural plan. Though states like Chhattisgarh and Assam have switched to organic farming, more states need to join them,” said Prof Kavi Kumar, Madras School of Economics.