Kanha Tiger Reserve
A tigress was found dead in the Kanha tiger reserve buffer zone in Madhya Pradesh.
➤ Location: It stretches over 940 square km in the two districts - Mandla and Balaghat - of Madhya Pradesh.
➤ History: The present-day Kanha area was divided into two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar. Kanha National Park was created in 1955, and in 1973 was made the Kanha Tiger Reserve.
- Kanha National Park is the largest National Park in Central India.
- The State animal of Madhya Pradesh - Hard Ground Barasingha (Swamp deer or Rucervus duvaucelii) is found exclusively in Kanha Tiger Reserve.
- Other Species found include Tiger, Leopard, Dhole, Bear, Gaur and Indian Python etc.
- It is best known for its evergreen Sal forests (Shorea Robusta).
- It is the first tiger reserve in India to introduce a mascot, "Bhoorsingh the Barasingha officially".
➤ Other Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh:
- For management, tiger reserves are constituted on a 'core - buffer' strategy.
- In core areas, forestry operations, collection of minor forest produce, grazing, human settlement and other biotic disturbances are not allowed and are singularly oriented towards conservation.
- The buffer zone is managed as a 'multiple use area' with conservation-oriented land use, having the twin objectives of providing habitat supplement to the spillover population of wild animals from the core, apart from facilitating site-specific eco developmental inputs to stakeholder communities.
Subspecies: There are three subspecies of swamp deer found in the Indian Subcontinent.
- The western swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii) found in Nepal,
- Southern swamp deer / Hard Ground Barasingha (Rucervus duvaucelii branderi) located in central and north India and
- Eastern swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii ranjitsinhi) found in the Kaziranga (Assam) and Dudhwa National Parks (Uttar Pradesh).
➤ Protection Status of Swamp Deer:
- IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
- CITES: Appendix I
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
India's Draft Arctic Policy
Recently, India drafted a new Arctic policy that aims at expanding scientific research, sustainable tourism and exploration of mineral oil and gas in the Arctic region.
➤ About the Policy:
- Nodal Body: India has designated the Goa-based National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research to lead scientific research and act as a nodal body to coordinate various scientific bodies to promote domestic scientific research capacities in the Arctic.
- Promoting Scientific Study of Arctic: Orient the curriculum on earth sciences, biological sciences, geosciences, climate change and space-related programmes with Arctic imperatives in Indian Universities.
- Planning Explorations: Formulating effective plans for Arctic-related programmes for mineral/ oil and gas exploration in petroleum research institutes
- Promoting Arctic Tourism: Encouraging tourism and hospitality sectors by building specialised capacities and awareness by engaging with Arctic enterprises.
➤ About Arctic:
- The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth.
- The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
- Land within the Arctic region has seasonally varying snow and ice cover.
➤ Ecological Impact of Warming on the Arctic:
- Rising Sea Levels: The loss of ice and the warming waters affects sea levels, salinity levels, and current and precipitation patterns.
- Deterioration of Tundra: The Tundra is returning to the swamp, the permafrost is thawing, sudden storms are ravaging coastlines, and wildfires are devastating interior Canada and Russia.
- Tundra: Found in regions north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle. These are treeless regions.
- Threat to Biodiversity: The vibrant biodiversity of the Arctic region is under serious threat.
- The absence of year-long ice and higher temperatures are making the survival of Arctic marine life, plants and birds difficult while encouraging species from lower latitudes to move north.
- Extinction of Indigenous Cultures: The Arctic is also home to about 40 different indigenous groups, whose culture, economy and way of life is in danger of being swept away.
- Increasing human encroachment with its attendant stresses will only aggravate this impact and upset a fragile balance.
➤ Commercial Importance of Arctic:
- Abundant Resources: The Arctic opening presents huge commercial and economic opportunities, particularly in shipping, energy, fisheries and mineral resources.
- Commercial Navigation:
- The Northern Sea Route (NSR): It is a shipping lane connecting the North Atlantic to the North Pacific through a short polar arc that could revolutionise trade prospects in Russia and Scandinavian countries.
- It is approx 40% shorter than via the Suez Canal or 60% shorter via the Cape of Good Hope.
- It would cause substantial transportation time reductions, fuel consumption, limit environmental emission and eliminate piracy risk.
➤ Oil and Natural Gas Deposits:
- Estimated to be 22% of the world's new resources, mostly in the Arctic ocean, will be open to access and mineral deposits including 25% of the global reserves of rare earth, buried in Greenland.
➤ Issues Involved:
- Navigation conditions are dangerous and restricted to the summer.
- Lack of deep-water ports, a need for ice-breakers, shortage of workers trained for polar conditions, and high insurance costs add to the difficulties.
- Mining and deep-sea drilling carry massive costs and environmental risks.
- Unlike Antarctica, the Arctic is not a global common and there is no overarching treaty that governs it.
➤ Conflict over the Arctic:
- Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark have overlapped claims for extended continental shelves, and the right to sea-bed resources.
- Russia is the dominant power, with the longest Arctic coastline, half the Arctic population, and a full-fledged strategic policy.
- Claiming that the NSR falls within its territorial waters, Russia anticipates huge dividends from commercial traffic, including through the use of its ports, pilots and ice-breakers.
- Russia has also activated its northern military bases, refurbished its nuclear-armed submarine fleet and demonstrated its capabilities, including through an exercise with China in the eastern Arctic.
- China, playing for economic advantage, has moved in fast, projecting the Polar Silk Road as an extension of the Belt and Road Initiatives, and has invested heavily in ports, energy, undersea infrastructure and mining projects.
➤ India's Interests in the Arctic:
- Environmental Interest:
- India's extensive coastline makes it vulnerable to the impact of Arctic warming on ocean currents, weather patterns, fisheries and most importantly, the monsoon.
- Arctic research will help India's scientific community to study the melting rates of the Himalayan glaciers, which are endowed with the largest freshwater reserves in the world outside the geographic poles.
- Scientific Interest:
- Research Stations: India launched its first scientific expedition to the Arctic in 2007 and set up a research station 'Himadri' in the international Arctic research base at Ny-Alesund in Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway.
- India has two other observatories in Kongsforden and Gruvebadet in Norway.
- Studying Himalayan Glaciers: Scientific research in Arctic developments, in which India has a good record, will contribute to its understanding of climatic changes in the third Pole, the Himalayas.
- Strategic Interest:
- Countering Chinese Influence: The strategic implications of an active China in the Arctic and its growing economic and strategic relationship with Russia are self-evident and need close monitoring.
- Arctic Council Membership: Since 2013, India has had observer status in the Arctic Council, which is the predominant inter-governmental forum for cooperation on the environment and development aspects of the Arctic.
Adaptation Gap Report 2020: UNEP
Recently, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Adaptation Gap Report 2020 estimated the annual cost of adaptation to the effects of climate change for developing countries to at least quadruple by 2050.
The current cost for these countries is in the range of USD 70 billion (Rs 5.1 lakh crore) and may rise to USD 140-300 billion in 2030 and USD 280-500 billion in 2050.
➤ Adaptation Cost:
- It includes costs of planning, preparing for, facilitating and implementing adaptation measures.
- The ever-increasing adaptation cost has also outpaced the growth in adaptation finance, and that is the reason for a maintained Adaptation Finance gap.
- Adaptation Finance: It refers to the flow of funds to developing countries to help them tide over the damages caused by weather events from climate change.
- Adaptation Finance gap: It is the difference between Adaptation Cost and Adaptation Finance.
- Adaptation costs, in actual terms, is higher in developed countries but the burden of adaptation is greater for developing countries about their gross domestic product. o The developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia, which are least equipped to tackle climate change will also be the most impacted by it.
➤ Global Challenges:
- Rising Temperature: The world is heading for at least a 3°C temperature rise this century, according to current Paris Agreement pledges. Even if we limit global warming to well below 2°C, or even 1.5°C, the poor countries will suffer.
- The Pandemic: The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted adaptation efforts but its effect is not yet quantified.
- Other Challenges: Last year was not just marked by the pandemic but also by devastating natural calamities like floods, droughts, storms, forest fires and locust plagues impacting around 50 million lives globally.
➤ Global Adaptation for Climate Change: Three- quarters of all the countries have adopted at least one climate change adaptation planning instrument and
most developing countries are working on national adaptation plans.
➤ Some of the Indian Initiatives to Fight Climate Change:
- India has shifted from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms from 1st April 2020 were earlier to be adopted by 2024.
- National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):
(i) It was launched in January 2019.
(ii) It is a five-year action plan with a tentative target of 20-30% reduction in concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 by 2024, with 2017 as the base year.
- It has distributed more than 360 million LED bulbs under the UJALA scheme, which has led to energy saving of about 47 billion units of electricity per year and a reduction of 38 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
- The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission:
- It was launched in 2009 with the primary aim of achieving grid parity by 2022 and with coal-based thermal power by 2030.
- Aims to increase the share of solar energy in India's energy mix.
- National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC):
- It was launched in 2008.
- It aims at creating awareness among the representatives of the public, various agencies of the government, scientists, industry and the communities on the threat posed by climate change and the steps to counter it.
➤ United Nations Environment Programme
- The UNEP is a leading global environmental authority established on 5th June 1972.
- Functions: It sets the global environmental agenda, promotes sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for global environment protection.
- Major Reports: Emission Gap Report, Global Environment Outlook, Frontiers, Invest into Healthy Planet.
- Major Campaigns: Beat Pollution, UN75, World Environment Day, Wild for Life. Headquarters: Nairobi, Kenya.
Nagi-Nakti Bird Sanctuaries
Recently, Bihar's first state-level bird festival, 'Kalrav' started at the Nagi-Nakti bird sanctuaries in the Jamui district, Bihar.
- It is a 3-day event and is expected to draw experts and bird lovers from all over the country.
- The Nagi Dam and Nakti Dam are two sanctuaries so close that they can be taken as one bird area.
- The Nagi- Nakti Bird Sanctuaries have been the home of a wide variety of indigenous species of birds and of migratory birds that turn up during the winters from places like Eurasia, Central Asia, the Arctic Circle, Russia and Northern China..
➤ Avian Fauna:
- Over 136 species of birds have been spotted at these sanctuaries.
- Bar-headed geese: Around 1,600 bar-headed geese, which is about 3% of the global population of this variety, have been seen here, as per a report of the Wetlands International and because of this rare phenomenon, the Birdlife International, a global body, has held the Nagi Dam Bird Sanctuary to be globally important for conservation of birds' population and has declared it as an important bird area.
- Wetland International is a global not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands.
- Bird Life International is a global partnership of conservation organisations (NGOs) that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources.
- Other major birds: Indian Courser, Indian Sand- grouse, Yellow-wattled Lapwing and Indian Robin.
- Major threats to the sanctuaries' biodiversity: Agricultural runoff; Land dispute between Irrigation and Forest Departments; Leasing out of the site for fishing.
➤ Other Bird Sanctuaries of Bihar:
- Gautam Budha bird sanctuary, Gaya o Kawar Jheel bird sanctuary, Bigusarai o Kusheshwar asthan bird sanctuary, Darbhanga