ePaper & Audio | The Western Ghats are no ordinary ecosystem: They constitute the water tower of peninsular India

Report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel 2011
Report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel
Source: www.thehindu.com (accessed: 16 September 2016) | Backup copy (PDF, 3,6 MB) >>
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Western Ghats tribal heritage and ecology >>

[…] This is a challenging time in India’s development history where a number of tenets of environmental governance are being questioned by the imperative of growth. Environmental governance in India is under assault, and is thus in need of both fresh thinking, and a new focus, based on outcome and results.

The Western Ghats are no ordinary ecosystem. They constitute the water tower of peninsular India, providing water to 245 million people and draining a large part of the land surface of India. They are also a treasure trove of biodiversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity confers sovereign rights over these elements of biodiversity for which we are a country of origin. India can play an important role in research relating to such biodiversity elements and claim a share in the commercial profits flowing out of their use. The elements of value not only include medicinal plants and cultivated species of plants and their wild relatives, but seemingly worthless creations such as spider cobwebs, which turn out to be sources of a new kind of silk stronger than steel. Notably enough, such elements of value are by no means confined to natural forests, but occur everywhere across the Western Ghats, underscoring the need to maintain connectivity amongst biodiversity rich habitats. […]

Today, however, it is estimated that only seven per cent of the Ghats’ primary vegetation survives and there are many threatened species, of which 51 are critically endangered species. […].

The WGEEP approach was to engage with the community in understanding their concerns, do the scientific assessments, and then take the science back to the local community, and have the state and community take the final decisions on both ecologically sensitive areas and sectoral activities that should be allowed. […]

It was, in fact, in response to the people in the inhabited areas, where such activities impact people’s lives, water, health and livelihoods, that we had suggested that there was need for strong oversight and regulation of such activities. This is where the pressures are most high as are conflicts. […]

In the light of these two reports, we need more thinking on the kind of environmental governance needed for the Western Ghats around: (i) the value of the Western Ghats ecosystem and the services it provides (ii) the consultative processes required to arrive at recommendations, and (iii) the argument made about “implementability.” To which we ask: for whom and for what?

(Madhav Gadgil and Ligia Noronha were members of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel.)

Source: Madhav Gadgil and Ligia Noronha, The Hindu, 2 May 2013
Date Visited: 12 December 2022

It is certain that Gadgil committee report will find it’s way to the dustbin. The forest had been seized by certain people, who has an advantage with their religious as well as political status.The politicians, particularly in Kerala are interested in the immediate gain. None has any longterm perspective for the country. The disgrace is that the tribal, who used to look after forest and the ecosystem had be abandoned. Alas ! they are not in an organised vote-bank.. Pity indeed !

Source: An ecosystem to save, or squander, 2 May 2013
Address : https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/an-ecosystem-to-save-or-squander/article4674200.ece?homepage=true
Date Visited: 12 December 2022

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

The ecosystems of the land and ocean absorb around half our our planet warming emissions. But these are being destroyed by human activity. At the same time, climate change is a primary driver of the destruction of these habitats and biodiversity loss. If biodiversity is our strongest natural defence against climate change (as it’s been described), what’s stopping us from doing more to protect it?

How much does biodiversity matter to climate change?
Click here to listen to this BBC Podcast: The Climate Question >>

“We can do things differently to reinvent growth without pollution. But only if we have the courage to think differently.” – Sunita Narain in Down To Earth >>

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