The decade-old plan to constitute a biodiversity database of India by tapping in to local resources has been given a new lease of life by the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA).
The chairman of NBA and additional secretary of ministry of environment and forests MF Farooqui announced that Rs 300 crore had been sanctioned for effective implementation of the National Biological Diversity Act (NBA)-2004 by creating a People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) which will be fully operational from 2013 and will strengthen the State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) and NBA.
Speaking on the sidelines of the sixth Meeting of Parties (MOP-6) here Monday, the chairman of NBA said, “The PBR will focus on building a register of biodiversity found at block and district levels. The exercise will involve cooperation of the local bodies, including the village panchayats, for compilation of information.”
The legalities on the inclusion of species and mechanism of data collection will be decided by the SBBs for inclusion in the PBR.
The Biodiversity Act backs the establishment of Biodiversity Management Committees in the local bodies such as panchayats and municipalities.
Touching upon the implications of bringing about a composite register, MF Farooqui cited the importance of preserving traditional knowledge associated with the components of the register.
“The case of claiming a patent on medicinal properties of neem and turmeric is among some of the litigations we had faced in the past. The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is an online repository which lists the medicinal properties of various plants and plant products included in the traditional system of Indian medicine such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha to prevent incidents of biopiracy. The PBR will also contain comprehensive information on availability and knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal and traditional applications,” said the NBA chairman.
He added that it was a precautionary step towards avoiding long drawn litigations on patent rights on plant compounds which have been a part of indigenous knowledge.
The PBR will serve to collate the data on the diverse species of tropical flora and fauna. India contributes around 8 per cent of global biodiversity, despite only 2.4 per cent of land area dedicated to preserving it.