State Biodiversity strategy and Action Plan. Endangered and threatened species of Himachal Pradesh. Factors responsible for Bio diversity decline in Himachal Pradesh

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State Biodiversity strategy and Action Plan. Endangered and threatened species of Himachal Pradesh. Factors responsible for Bio diversity decline in Himachal Pradesh:-


Bio-diversity refers to the variety of life forms, such as the plants, animals and micro organisms, the genes they contain and the eco-system they form. Usually bio-diversity is classified into three groups: (i) genetic diversity, which refers to the variation of genes within species. It explains genetic variation between distinct populations of the same species and also genetic variation within a population, (ii) species diversity, which refers to the variety of species. It can be measured on the basis of species richness, species abundance and phytogenetic diversity and (iii) ecosystem diversity, which encompass the broad difference between ecosystem type and the diversity of habitat and ecological process of occurring within each ecosystem.

Himachal Pradesh is among one of the ecologically fragile destinations in Himalayan region having immense wealth of natural resources and biodiversity but currently slowly and steadily facing the pressures of development. It is an undisputed fact that the natural resources are the critical engine for accelerating the economic growth and with it, maintains the quality of life of the people, besides livelihoods of millions of people living even in the foothills of the State. Sustainability of economic growth and the resultant improvement in the quality of life of its people depends largely on the sustainability of its environmental heritage and natural resources.

Himachal Pradesh provides unmatched contribution to ‘national interest’ in sustaining life support system, on the basis of which sustainable development can be realized downstream, in the plains of North India. Attention is shifting to environmental services flows provided by the forests. These include critical watershed services, biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration and of course maintaining landscape beauty. Ecosystem services, human welfare and economic systems are intrinsically connected. Sustainable forest management, the new mantra, has emerged to meet societal concerns and tackle conservation and land‐use issues, providing for multifunctional landscapes and looking to eco‐regions rather than boundaries as the unit of analysis and management. It is a movement away from the conventional, commodity production orientation, towards a holistic, people‐centered ecosystem‐level approach. This shift has been necessary to address Himachal Pradesh’s threat of depleting drinking water, global warming and likely biodiversity losses. Sustainable forest management represents a new look at forests and forest management to meet two major commitments:

Protect and restore the forest ecosystem‐improve biological diversity, enhance water supplies, make possible carbon sequestration, meet recreation needs and provide for the forest dependent communities through improved non‐wood

  • forest produce
  • Encourage profitable enterprises, attracting the investor who sees sustainability as a viable economic venture.

The Government of Himachal Pradesh received national recognition in 2009 by receiving the Prime Minister Award for Excellence in Public Administration and other awards for its achievements in both environment protection and in interactive e‐ governance that promotes communication as well as public consultation. The state has adopted the motto of ‘fast‐track development in harmony with environment protection with the involvement of citizens. In order to ensure the sustainability of environmental heritage and natural resources and to develop a long term perspective of achieving environmentally sustainable development, the Government of Himachal Pradesh has undertaken the preparation of Environment Master Plan (EMP) for the State. The key objectives of the Environment Master Plan are to enable the State of Himachal Pradesh to:

  1. Simultaneously address issues of ecological and environment restoration and bring convergence along with the development activities taking place in the state.
  2. Engage and ensure close coordination with all the concerned development departments, both at the state and Government of India level.
  3. Decide future financing of investments for development in a sustainable manner, and
  4. Develop suitable institutional arrangements in order to implement the Government of Himachal Pradesh’s policies and strategies.

Overall, the Environment Master Plan has been envisioned as guide tool to provide strategic direction with respect to all encompassing environmental issues. It would be a platform for engagement among implementing agencies, developmental agencies and the local  government, to take action w.r.t. environmental issues of local concern on priority. It would also act as a tool for monitoring environmental performance and progress. The major tasks to achieve these objectives are as follows:

Task 1:   Establish Baseline conditions.

Task 2: Conduct a Spatial Vulnerability Assessment and Formulate Planning Principles.

Task 3: Develop Public Consultation and Communication Strategy for the Department of Environment.

Task 4: Develop Sectoral Guidelines.

Task 5: Develop an institutional mechanism for implementation of the EMP.

Task 6: Establish need for training and capacity enhancement.

Task‐7: Develop monitoring and Evaluation Protocols.

Three sectors namely Infrastructure, Natural Resources Management and Services have been identified for preparation of EMP.

Himachal Pradesh State Biodiversity Board :-

Conservation, regulation of the biological resources, sustainable utilization and sharing of benefits accruing out of the use of biological resources and traditional knowledge based on local biological resources on equity and gender basis amongst the stakeholders/conservers of biodiversity in the State.

Mission of the board:-

  1. To regulate access to biological resources of the state with the purpose of securing equitable share in benefits arising out of the use of biological resources; and associated knowledge relating to biological resources.
  2. To conserve and sustainably use biological diversity of the State.
  3. To respect and protect knowledge of local communities related to biodiversity.
  4. To secure sharing of benefits with local people as conservers of biological resources and holders of knowledge and information relating to the use of biological resources.
  5. To conserve and develop areas of importance from the standpoint of biological diversity by declaring them as Heritage Sites.
  6. To protect and conserve threatened species.
  7. To involve institutions of the State in Broad schemes for implementation of the Biological Diversity Act through constitution of Committees.


A three tier structure at the National, State and Local level is envisaged.  National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) ,Chennai: All matters relating to requests for access by foreign individuals, institutions or companies, and all matters relating to transfer of results of research to any foreigner will be dealt with by the National biodiversity Authority.

State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) :-

All matters relating to access by Indians for commercial purposes will be under the purview of the State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs). The Indian industry will be required to provide prior intimation to the concerned SBB about the use of biological resource. The State Biodiversity Board will have the power to restrict any such activity, which violates the objectives of conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits.

Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) :-

Institutions of local state government will be required to set up Biodiversity Management Committees in their respective areas for conservation, sustainable use, and documentation of biodiversity and chronicling of knowledge relating to biodiversity. NBA and SBBs are required to associated knowledge within their jurisdiction.

People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR)   :-

Institutions of the State Government will be required to set up Biodiversity Management Committees in their respective areas namely local bodies(rural 7 urban) for conservation, sustainable use, and documentation of biodiversity and chronicling of knowledge relating to biodiversity. NBA and SBBs are required to associate knowledge within their jurisdiction.

Endangered and threatened species of Himachal Pradesh:-


Snow leopard (Panthera uncia):-

Snow leopard is now the state animal of Himachal Pradesh. It has replaced the musk deer.

The Snow Leopard is restricted to the high mountains of Central Asia, with core areas including the Altai, Tian Shan, Kun Lun, Pamir, Hindu Kush, Karakorum and Himalayan ranges. Five states, three in the western Himalayan region – Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and two in the north-eastern region – Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, are known to host snow leopards in the country. The snow leopard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and is classified as ‘endangered’ by the IUCN Red List. The global Snow Leopard population is estimated at 4,080-6,590;  India: 200-600. An estimated presence of 35 wildcats is expected in this hill state. Efforts are underway to install six radio or satellite collar under Project Snow Leopard to ascertain their exact number.

Meanwhile the iconic big cats’ conservation status has been improved from endangered” to “vulnerable”. The decision was announced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – the global standard for assessing extinction risk. Experts have warned that the species still faces serious threats from poaching and habitat destruction.



Western Tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus):-


In 2007 at the 3rd State Wildlife Board meeting, the Western Tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus), locally known as jujurana, the King of Birds replaced the Monal as the State Bird of Himachal Pradesh. It is endemic to a narrow range in the temperate region of the Greater Himalaya, between Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan and western Uttarakhand in India (Birdlife International 2001). It is classified as Vulnerable on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  As per 2012 reports, there are about 2,500 to 3,500 individuals of this bird.


Pink Rhododendron (Rhododendron campanulatum):-


Pink Rhododendron is now the state flower of Himachal. According to the reports of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Pink Rhododendron comes under the endangered species of flower. There are over 900 different species of rhododendrons all over the world. Most of the species are found in Southeast Asia, from the Himalayas through Pakistan, Tibet, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam, to Malaysia, Indonesia, Phillipines and New Guinea.


Factors responsible for Bio diversity decline:-


Bio-diversity is threatened by many factors. Hence, there is a need to analyse few of them for the purpose of the present discussion. Deforestation is a major cause behind destruction of biodiversity. It takes place in the following ways:

  1. The mono-cultivation practice is one of the causes for deforestation in India. The replacement of natural forest ecosystem by mono specific tree plantation leads to the disappearance of a number of plant species; this situation leads to deforestation in India. In Himachal Pradesh, over the years 22.6% of forest land has been converted to agriculture and horticulture in the Temperate Zone alone
  2. Forest fires are also one of the causes for deforestation. Forest fires are intentional caused by human beings; accidental fires also caused by tribes. They destroy forest vegetation i.e. bio-diversity.
  3. Undertaking of development activities in the forest area is another cause for deforestation. It means conversion of forest for development activities.
  4. The expansion of tourism in forest areas poses serious environmental degradation leading to endangering flora, fauna species and other environmental resources.
  5. The rate of reduction in conservation of forest is one of the causes behind deforestation.
  6. Increase in livestock population is an important cause for deforestation in India. Grazing by domestic animals in the forest has caused the adverse effects of death of natural and planted seedlings, soil erosion etc.
  7. Illicit exploitation of forest wood is another cause for deforestation. It may be noted that the increasing use of wood in construction and commercial uses has led to dramatic increase in smuggling. This situation has led to deforestation.
  8. Both rural and tribal populations are dependent on the forests surrounding their villages for meeting their daily needs of fuel wood and it is a major reason for deforestation. Besides deforestation some other causes are responsible for unsustainable features of bio-diversity. These are:
  9. Bio-diversity is disturbed on the consequences of harmful fishery practices and over exploitation of fisheries. It may be noted that 16 albatross species have been threatened by long line fishing (as per the 2000 IUCN Red list)
  10. Land degradation in consequence of applying chemical fertilizers affects the bio-diversity of earthworms.
  11. Low biomass generation in consequence of destruction of biodiversity.
  12. The practising of shifting cultivation replaces some of the traditional variety of crops cultivation. This situation leads to a disappearance of some crop varieties.
  13. The destruction of mangrove vegetation affects the bio-diversity of marine life and Halophytic vegetation.
  14. The indiscriminate exploitation of coral reefs leads to destruction of its biodiversity. It may be noted that coral reefs with an estimated half million species in their 400000 square kilometres are being depleted at rates that may leave little but degraded remnants by this century.
  15. The practising of mono-cultivation is one of the causes that threatens the biodiversity. The replacement of forest ecosystem by mono specific tree plantation can lead to disappearance of a number of plant and animal species.
  16. The practising of shrimp culture around the coastal ecosystem destroys the bio-diversity of marine living organisms due to the discharge of toxic chemicals from the shrimp ponds into the marine water.
  17. The use of chemicals to control insects, pests, weeds and fungi enhances the productivity of crops. But their excessive use destroys some of the beneficial insects and also affects the health of human beings in the form of pesticide poisoning.
  18. The introduction of alien species i.e., the introduction of grey squirrel in the United Kingdom has decimated the indigenous and squirrel population. The introductions of the Nile Perch into Africa’s Lake Victoria during the 70s are reportedly threatening the survival of more than 400 species of small fish.

Forest Fire Management in Himachal Pradesh:-

India is a vast country with geographical area of 3,287,2632, km. Himachal Pradesh is situated in the north of India. It has 22.20 percent of its geographical area under forest cover (FSI 2001) and the forests have been classified into 16 forest types. India’s forests are endowed with a variety of biomass and biological communities. Himachal Pradesh is also rich in its forest land and natural resources. It lies in the lap of Himalayas and extends from the perpetual snowy mountains separating it from Tibet town to Punjab plains. It lies between 300 22’ 44” and 330 1’ 40” north latitudes and 75° 45’ 55” and 790 04’ 20” east longitudes. For hill states like Himachal Pradesh the forests have to protect hillside against erosion, moderate the water flow and ameliorate physical and chemical factors of the locality. The National Forest Policy lays down that forest should cover two thirds of the geographical area. As per the legal definition of a ‘forest’ forest cover should be 37, 5912 km or 67.52 percent of the total geographical area of Himachal Pradesh. It consists of hilly terrain crossed by big and small rivers, rivulets, nalas, glaciers and deep gorges. Being a state saddled with the responsibility of selling a large number of irrigation and hydroelectric dams, it needs a bigger forest cover for their conservation. But these forests are degrading day by day due to many reasons and forest fire is one of the main causes behind this degradation. From 1st April 2004 to 15th May 2004 there were 939 cases of forest fires occurrences in the forests of Himachal Pradesh and there was a loss of about 107 lacs. At least 10,000 to 12,000 hec. area of forest is burned every year largely intentional fires. Against the national average of 2.73 percent of the area under forests, Himachal Pradesh can boast of 38.00 percent. But these forests are degrading day by day.




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