CHENNAI: In an important step towards protecting the State’s natural resources, Tamil Nadu has set up block-level biodiversity management committees (BMCs), which will be the custodians of local resources. In total, 383 BMCs have been constituted.
Though Tamil Nadu is one of the major States gifted with abundant biodiversity, the government has failed to document its flora and fauna in a systematic and scientific manner. Other southern States such as Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have already constituted the BMCs and are in the process of preparing the people’s biodiversity registers.
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 mandates all States to set up the biodiversity management committees (BMC), which will have one chairperson and six members, comprising one-third of women, and which will follow the SC/ST reservation as per state demography.
A Udhayan, secretary, Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board, told Express, “Yes, there was a delay in constituting the BMCs due to various factors. However, the crucial process has been completed and the exercise of preparing the people’s biodiversity registers will commence shortly,” he said.
As per the Act, the role of BMCs will be to preserve and promote local biodiversity - breeds of birds, animals and plants, prepare the people’s biodiversity register, which will be an electronic database with inputs from locals. The BMCs will maintain data on medicinal plants/resources used by local ‘vaidhya’ (traditional healer) and advise the State and National Biodiversity Boards on matters related to local biodiversity. Under the Nagoya Protocol of Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), they can collect fees for granting access to the biodiversity register to researchers and commercial companies.
Sources said constitution of BMCs would root out unregulated over-exploitation of rich forest resources. If any commercial company wants to access forest resources, an application has to be submitted to the Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board, which, in turn, will seek opinions of the respective BMC.
Section 26 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 talks about conservation and promotion of biological resources and development of areas from where such biological resources or knowledge associated thereto have been accessed and Section 23 empowers State boards to prohibit or restrict any such activity if it is of opinion that such activity is detrimental or contrary to the objectives of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity or equitable sharing of benefits arising out of such activity.
In Tamil Nadu
5 National parks
15 Wildlife sanctuaries
15 Bird sanctuaries
2 Conservation reserves
1 The Nilgiris
2 Gulf of Mannar
Recorded forest area (As per ISFR 2015 assessment)
Reserved Forest | 20,293 sq. km
Protected Forest | 1,782 sq. km
Unclassed Forest | 802 sq. km
Total | 22,877 sq. km
Of State’s geographical area | 17.59%
Of India’s Forest Area | 2.99%
IN TRIBAL DISTRICTS
Traditionally, tribes have been an inseparable part of forest ecosystem. Forests are fulfilling the social, economic, cultural, religious and medical needs of tribes. Therefore, it becomes very important to monitor and analyse the forest cover situation in the tribal areas. The total forest cover in the tribal districts is 7,165 sq.km, which is 23.32% of the geographical area of the hill districts