Learn from M S Swaminathan – a world renowned scientist – how biological diversity contributes to public health, people’s livelihood and environmental security in addition to food security: his call on Indian citizens to use and share resources in a more sustainable and equitable manner; outlining the long journey from the 1992 Earth Summit to a commitment to foster inherited knowledge through India’s Biodiversity Act and Genome Saviour Award; an award intended to reward those who are “primary conservers” – guardians of biological diversity.
- watch the above video message (Biodiversity) by world renowned scientist Prof M.S. Swaminathan
- for more video contents, visit his foundation’s YouTube channel: MSSRF CAbC WAYANAD
- peruse the MSSRF website https://www.mssrf.org in order to understand its founder’s long-term vision just as the local context where programmes are being implemented
What is the Biodiversity Act?
An Act to provide for conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources, knowledge and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. […]
The Central Government shall develop national strategies, plans, programmes for the conservation and promotion and sustainable use of biological diversity including measures for identification and monitoring of areas rich in biological resources, promotion of in situ, and ex situ, conservation of biological resources, incentives for research, training and public education to increase awareness with respect to biodiversity. […]
Where an offence or contravention under this Act has been committed by a company, every person who at the time the offence or contravention was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence or contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly
Source: “The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules, 2004” (promulgated by the Government of India, 5 February 2003)
Date visited: 3 March 2021
How to implement the Biodiversity Act across India?
Local bodies take charge of “People’s biodiversity registers” (PBR)
The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) is set to tell the National Green Tribunal that it created 243,499 biodiversity management committees (BMC) and 95,525 people’s biodiversity registers (PBR) as of January 2020, a source said. The green bench is hearing a case on the full implementation of the Biodiversity Act, 2002. BMCs are created for “promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity” by local bodies across the country, according to the NBA. […]
The new system [people’s biodiversity registers (PBR) with ‘comprehensive information on availability and knowledge of local biological resources’] will also protect intellectual property rights over traditional knowledge; information will not be shared without consent.
Source: “Most biodiversity panels now in place, National Biodiversity Authority to tell NGT” by Ishan Kukreti (Down to Earth, 18 February 2020)
Date visited: 3 March 2021
Historically, India’s environmental movement has revolved around wildlife conservation — tigers, leopards, elephants — yet there was little inclusion of sustainability in our models of development. […]
Our task is to retain urban biodiversity and augment it. One of our projects started off as growing native indigenous trees in Mumbai, working with private landowners and corporations. […]
We’ll teach about edible landscaping, butterfly gardens, sensory gardens, vertical landscapes, and urban bee keeping. We’ll need these concepts as the population rises and the land area shrinks. […]
By and large, the middle class and the educated are changing and becoming an important voice. They are the voice demanding change and action from the government.
Source: Rashneh Pardiwala in “Why It’s Hard to ‘Change Mindsets’ on Environmental Protection Among India’s Elites”; interview with Asia Blog on environmental education at the Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE Mumbai, founded in 2003)
Date visited: 3 March 2021
In 1997, MSSRF established its first Community Agro-biodiversity Centre in Wayanad district of Kerala to work on ‘community biodiversity management’ by promoting a coalition of the concerned, notably, government departments and voluntary organizations for the conservation of the genetic wealth of Wayanad and surrounding region. | Learn more >>
Read a report in the Hindustani Times (22 November 2018): “Tribesmen bag plant genome saviour award” (for conserving cereals, millets, spices, tubers, vegetables)
Medicinal Plants Used by Traditional Healthcare Practitioners of Dominant Tribes of Koraput in Odisha
The paper documents the medicinal plants growing naturally in the forests used in traditional healthcare system by major tribal communities inhabiting four southern districts of Odisha, India. In the tribal villages, traditional healthcare practitioners (THPs) are responsible for collection, processing, and administration of herbal medicines acquired through inherited knowledge. We recorded 294 medicinal plants, out of which 34 plants are commonly used by nine dominant tribes though the mode of preparation, plant parts used, and the treating ailments vary within the tribes. Malaria, diarrhea, and skin infections are the most commonly occurring diseases treated with a variety of herbal medicines and the tribes depend strongly on the THPs. Although several medicinal plants utilized in primary healthcare have been recognized, their conservation, sustainable use, and benefit sharing is lacking. A garden of medicinal plants was established to protect the traditional knowledge of tribal communities for Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) under the Biodiversity Act (BD Act), 2002, empowering with modern and mass cultivation methods and market linkage for economic benefi ts and as a part of conservation measures of these depleting resources. – Publication date: 2013
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In Search of Biohappiness deals with methods of converting agro-biodiversity hotspots into happy spots. This involves concurrent attention to conservation, and sustainable and equitable use. Bioresources constitute the feedstock for the biotechnology industry. The aim of the book is to promote an era of biohappiness based on the conversion of bioresources into jobs and income in an environmentally sustainable manner. The scope of Biohappiness extends to include all aspects of conservation such as in situ, ex situ and community conservation, and also covers conservation issues relating to mangroves and other coastal bioresources, whose importance has grown with the emerging possibility of significant sea-level increase from global warming. Concrete examples of how local tribal families have taken to the establishment of gene, seed, grain and water banks in villages — thus linking conservation, cultivation, consumption and commerce in a mutually-reinforcing manner — are provided in this book. Since the first edition, biohappiness is now universally considered to be the major objective of research and development in the field of biodiversity. This edition brings the position up-to-date, and furthers the cause of biohappiness through the inclusion of a new section on its latest developments.
Source: “In search of biohappiness : biodiversity and food, health and livelihood security by M.S. Swaminathan” (World Scientific, 2015)
Date visited: 25 April 2021
The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) was established in 1988 as a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987. The Foundation aims to accelerate use of modern science and technology for agricultural and rural development to improve lives and livelihoods of communities. | Learn more>>
Date accessed: 10 January 2019
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