India is a party to five major international conventions related to Wild Life conservation, viz., Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES), International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), International Whaling Commission (IWC), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-World Heritage Committee (UNESCO-WHC) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).
i. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES):
In order to regulate international trade in endangered species of Wild Life, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) was signed in March 1973.
The Government of India signed the Convention in July 1976, which was ratified in October 1976.The Director, Wild Life Preservation has been designated as the CITES Management Authority for India. The enforcement of the provisions of CITES is carried out by the Regional Deputy Directors, Wild Life Crime Control Bureau, who have also been designated as the Assistant CITES Management Authority for India. Apart from the Regional Deputy Directors, the Customs Authorities, State Forest Departments are also involved in the enforcement of the Convention. An amendment to the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972 has been proposed for integrating the provisions of CITES in the national law for effective implementation of the Convention. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has also constituted a CITES Cell on 10th September 2010 to assist the Government of India in CITES implementation. India has taken several initiatives in recent years at national level to build capacity for better CITES implementation in the country.
Indian delegation has participated in the meetings of the Plants and Animal Committees, the meetings of the Standing Committee and in Conferences of Parties of CITES from time to time. Following specific agendas have been pursued in this convention in recent times.
The 16thMeeting of the Conference of Parties to CITES (CoP-16) was held from 3-14th March 2013 at Bangkok and the meeting was attended by Indian Delegation headed by CITES Management Authority of India.
In CoP 16, India has support the text of the document of “CITES and Livelihoods” which outlines recommendations to Parties to make CITES implementation attractive and rather positive with respect to livelihood needs of the local people and particularly poor rural communities.
India expressed the need to establish a self-sustaining funding mechanism for the Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme in Asia. A drafting group comprising China, Germany, India, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda and United States (chair) was formed for improving the wording in Annex 2 of the document CoP 16 doc. 26 (Rev. 1) on Trade in Elephant Specimens.
With reference to amendments to the ‘Amendments of the Appendices’, India strongly supported the proposal indicating that the species listed under critically endangered and threatened category of the IUCN’s Red list should also be listed in the Appendices of the CITES for monitoring the trade effectively.
In the CoP 16, India has shown willingness to work with the Nepal Government and other national authorities in monitoring the trade of shahtoosh wool derived from Tibetan antelopes and its illegal poaching. India has also deliberated in the CoP 16 that stringent penal provisions have been provided for any contravention under the Indian Wild Life (Protection), Act 1972.
India has supported inclusion of box turtles and soft shell turtles in the appendices of CITES and requested the CITES to ascertain the correct conservation status of a species before taking any decision on listing of species including sharks in the Appendices of CITES as such decisions cannot be made on the basis of inadequate or unreliable information, more so when they are likely to impact the livelihoods of millions of poor communities. India also mentioned that there is strong need for undertaking more region specific studies, primarily relating to the status of the concerned species in the Indian Ocean regions, before taking decisions to include sharks in the Appendices of CITES.
ii. World Heritage Convention:
India is a member of World Heritage Convention responsible for listing of World Heritage Sites, which include both Cultural and natural sites. The World Heritage Convention is a Convention under the aegis of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Wild Life wing of the Ministry of Environment and Forests is associated with the conservation of the Natural World Heritage sites.
Currently, six natural World Heritage Sites have been recognized by UNESCO in India, viz., Nanda Devi National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Keoladeo National Park, Sundarbans National Park. Apart from these, the Valley of Flowers National Park has also been included in the list of World Heritage Sites as an extension of Nanda Devi National Park.
Further, a serial cluster of following 39 sites from Western Ghats spread over 4 States have also been inscribed as World Heritage Sites:
|Sub-cluster||Site||Site Element Name||Area (km2)||State|
|Agasthyamalai||1||Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve||895.00||Tamil Nadu|
|2||Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary||171.00||Kerala|
|3||Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary||128.00||Kerala|
|4||Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary||53.00||Kerala|
|Periyar||7||Periyar Tiger Reserve||777.00||Kerala|
|8||Ranni Forest Division||828.53||Kerala|
|9||Konni Forest Division||261.43||Kerala|
|10||Achankovil Forest Division||219.90||Kerala|
|11||Srivilliputtur Wildlife Sanctuary||485.00||Tamil Nadu|
|12||Tirunelveli (North) Forest Division (part)||234.67||Tamil Nadu|
|Anamalai||13||Eravikulam National Park (and proposed extension)||127.00||Kerala|
|14||Grass Hills National Park||31.23||Tamil Nadu|
|15||Karian Shola National Park||5.03||Tamil Nadu|
|16||Karian Shola(part of Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary)||3.77||Kerala|
|18||Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary||90.44||Kerala|
|Nilgiri||20||Silent Valley National Park||89.52||Kerala|
|21||New Amarambalam Reserved Forest||246.97||Kerala|
|22||Mukurti National Park||78.50||Tamil Nadu|
|24||Attapadi Reserved Forest||65.75||Kerala|
|Talacauvery||25||Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary||102.59||Karnataka|
|26||Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary||181.29||Karnataka|
|27||Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary||105.00||Karnataka|
|28||Padinalknad Reserved Forest||184.76||Karnataka|
|29||Kerti Reserved Forest||79.04||Karnataka|
|30||Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary||55.00||Kerala|
|Kudremukh||31||Kudremukh National Park||600.32||Karnataka|
|32||Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary||88.40||Karnataka|
|33||Someshwara Reserved Forest||112.92||Karnataka|
|34||Agumbe Reserved Forest||57.09||Karnataka|
|35||Balahalli Reserved Forest||22.63||Karnataka|
|37||Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary||423.55||Maharashtra|
|38||Chandoli National Park||308.90||Maharashtra|
|39||Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary||282.35||Maharashtra|
In the 38th Sessions of the World Heritage Committee meetings held at Doha, Qatar from16 June – 26 June 2014, the Great Himalayan National Park was tabled for discussion and was inscribed on to the World Heritage List.
Further, the UNESCO has given in principle concurrence to the proposal of India for establishment of UNESCO Category II Centre for Asia Pacific Region at Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.
Six new natural heritage sites, viz., Bhitarkanika Conservation area, Desert National Park, Kangchendzonga National Park, Namdhapha National Park, Neora Valley National Park, and Wild Ass Sanctuary, Little Rann of Kutch have been included in the tentative list of World Heritage Site nominations from India.
The first phase of externally aided project was completed which was undertaken with title “World Heritage Bio-diversity Programme for India: Building Partnerships to Support UNESCO’s World Heritage Programme’. This project is an outcome of a planning grant received from the UNESCO and United Nation Foundation (UNF) and was developed under the guidance of a Project Steering Committee chaired by the Addl. Director General of Forests (WL), MoEF. The total period of the project is 10 years with two phases, viz, Phase-I of four years and Phase-II of six years. The project is being undertaken in 4 World Heritage Sites of India, viz, Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Nanda Devi National Park, and Keoladeo National Park. The total financial outlay for the first phase of the project was to the tune of US $ 1.83 million.
The main focus of the Project is on strengthening capacity for effective management; site level management policies and governance; enhance the role of local communities in conservation of biodiversity; enhancing habitat connectivity; restoration of lost attributes; research and monitoring, and identification of potential World Heritage Bio-diversity sites. Currently the project is under the process of developing Funds in Trust (FIT), model for raising funds for supporting the “World Heritage Bio-diversity Programme for India.
iii. Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS):
The Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) or Bonn Convention aims to conserve migratory species throughout their range. The Convention came into force in 1979. India is a signatory to the convention since 1983.
During COP 10, India has also been nominated as a member of the Standing Committee of the Convention with the support from various countries in the Asia. During the COP, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, WWF-India, Wetlands International and BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society) jointly organized a side event on Black-necked Crane urging the range States for regional cooperation for conservation of this unique species found in the Himalayan high altitude wetlands. Conference of Parties is held generally once in three years. The COP 11 is is being held in Equador in November 2014.
iv. International Whaling Commission:
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up under the International Commission for the Regulation of Whaling which was signed in Washington on 2ndDecember 1946. The purpose of the Convention is to provide for conservation of whale stocks. The main duty of the International Whaling Commission is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the schedule to the Convention which governs the conduct of whaling throughout the world. These measures, among other things, provide complete protection of certain species, designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries, limit the number of whales which may be taken, prescribe open and closed seasons and designate areas for whaling; prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves.
India has been a member of the International Whaling Commission since 1981 and has played a pro-active and prominent role in bringing about a moratorium on commercial whaling and supporting the Commission in its efforts towards whale conservation. All the Cetacean species (whales, dolphins, etc.) have been included in Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 thereby giving them the highest degree of protection. Apart from this, India has always been supporting the conservation of whales through the establishment of the South Pacific Sanctuary.
GOI-GEF UNDP Projects:
- Mainstreaming coastal and marine biodiversity conservation into production sectors in the east godavari river estuarine ecosystem, andhra pradesh
The East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem (EGREE) encompassing the Godavari mangroves (321 km2) is the second largest area of mangroves along the east coast of India (after Sundarbans). The area is rich in floral and faunal diversity, and generates significant ecological and economic benefits such as shoreline protection, sustaining livelihoods and carbon sink services. There are 35 species of mangroves, of which 16 are true mangroves and the rest are associates of mangrove species. This includes one nearly threatened (IUCN) species (Ceriops decandra) and three rare species. There are important nesting sites for migratory turtle species, notably the endangered Olive Ridley turtle, the critically endangered Leatherback turtle and Green turtle. The area serves as spawning grounds and as a sanctuary for the growth and development of numerous fin and shell fish. It is an Important Bird Area with a recorded population of 119 bird species, of which 50 are migratory. In recognition of its national and global biodiversity significance, a part of the EGREE area is gazetted as Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (CWLS). In addition to the biodiversity significance of the area, it is also of enormous economic significance. The last few decades have witnessed rapid economic changes and emergence of large scale production activities in EGREE.
The Government of India and UNDP-GEF, in partnership with the Government of Andhra Pradesh aims to mainstream biodiversity conservation into the production sectors of EGREE through: (1) Cross-sectoral planning in the EGREE, (2) Enhanced capacity of sector institutions for implementing biodiversity-friendly sector plans, (3) Improved community livelihoods and sustainable natural resource use. By project end, it is anticipated that production activities in at least 80,000 ha of the EGREE introduce mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation objectives, in turn improving the conservation prospects of several globally significant species, apart from contributing to the socio-economic wellbeing of the region.
Under this project, EGREE Foundation was established under Andhra Pradesh Society Registration Act 2001, which is a cross-sectoral platform to facilitate implementation of biodiversity conservation initiatives by involving the production sectors operating in the EGREE; Research gap analysis has been conducted for the EGREE Region and 58 research gaps identified. Action is being initiated to prioritise the research activities to be conducted under the project and with other research institutes. A Landscape based Biodiversity Management Plan has also been prepared for Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, taking into consideration the challenges from the production sectors especially in the peripheries of the sanctuary. This landscape based management plan is the first of its kind in India.
Regular training programmes are conducted with Coast Guards, Fisheries Department and other production sectors on conservation of coastal and marine biodiversity. In addition, a number of livelihood activities have been initiated with the local communities.
Further details on the project are available at :
- Mainstreaming coastal and marine biodiversity conservation into production sectors in sindhudurg, maharasthra
The Sindhudurg Coastal and Marine Ecosystem (SCME), located on the west coast of India in the state of Maharashtra is one of the 11 ecologically and economically critical habitats identified along the Indian coast. Critical habitats include: rocky shore, sandy shore, rocky island, estuaries, mud flats, marshy land, mangroves, coral reefs, and sargassum forests. The area has a rich repository of corals, with the recent discovery of a large coral area in Angria Bank. Due to its high ecological importance, 29.12 sq. km of SCME was designated as the Malvan Marine Sanctuary (MMS) in 1987 and is one of seven marine Protected Areas in India. The SCME has enormous economic significance as well, being one of the major fish landing centers, and as a rapidly emerging tourism destination. The primary drivers of ecosystem degradation in the SCME include unsustainable fishing by trawlers, an expanding tourism sector, and pollution from fishing vessels and other maritime traffic.
The Government of India and UNDP-GEF, in partnership with the Government of Maharashtra, aims to address the threats and concerns in the SCME through the following outcomes: (1) Cross-sectoral planning framework that mainstreams biodiversity conservation; (2) Enhanced capacity of sector institutions for implementing biodiversity-friendly fisheries management plan, ecotourism management plan and MMS management plan; and (3) Sustainable community livelihoods and natural resource use.
Under the Project, a biodiversity inclusive Fisheries Plan for Sindhudurg Coast has been drafted in consultation with the fishing communities, state fisheries department and other relevant stakeholders; a Sustainable Tourism Plan for the home-stays in SCME region is currently under preparation; Mangrove Crab culture has been initiated with the local communities; ‘System of Rice Intensification’ has been initiated in six coastal villages leading to substantial increase in income of local farmers; a comprehensive solid waste management plan has been prepared for 185 villages in SCME; Sindhudurg Fort and Vijaydurg Fort, prime tourist spots in the region have been declared as ‘no plastic zones’; an expedition to the Angria Bank has been conducted to study the living marine resources and a documentary has been prepared; women self-help groups have been trained in building rafts for oyster/mussel culture.
In addition, regular training programmes are conducted with representatives of production sector, conservation sector as well as the livelihood sector on conservation of coastal and marine biodiversity. As part of the diversification of livelihood programmes, local youth are trained on snorkeling and scuba diving.
Further details on the project are available at :
3. India High Range Landscape Project – Developing an effective multiple-use management framework for conserving biodiversity in the mountain landscapes of the High Ranges, the Western Ghats, India
High Range Mountain Landscape (HRML) in the Western Ghats mountains of peninsular India is globally significant biodiversity region. It’s key attributes are: a) high levels of endemism and biological diversity; b) World Heritage Site and Important Bird Area; c) presence of globally threatened species of fauna and flora; d) part of one of the five viable breeding centre of tiger in India; e) harbour the largest global population of Nilgiri tahr and a significant population of Grizzled Giant Squirrel (both threatened species); f) catchment of three major river systems of peninsular India; g) strong eco-cultural affinities; and h) support important economic sectors like cardamom, tea and tourism. There are eight Protected Areas (PAs) in the region.
At present, HRML is a complex mosaic of land uses where conservation, economic production and livelihood requirements assume equal primacy and profoundly influence each other. As a result, HRML has contradictory sectoral directives, multitudes of actors and contrary aspirations. Cumulatively, these are contributing to injudicious use of natural resources and eventual disruption of vital ecological processes. The rapidly altering developmental context, demographic contours, resource use configurations and new and emerging challenges make the situation increasingly precarious for HRML’s long term ecological sustainability and livelihood security. The existing planning and policy framework, as well as the institutional arrangements in HRML are inadequate for addressing biodiversity conservation from a landscape perspective. The project aims to put in place collaborative governance and know-how for multiple-use management of HRML.
The project will engineer a paradigm shift from current sector based and unsustainable practices to integrated multiple-use management of mountain landscapes to deliver global environmental benefits. The project aims to achieve this through the following Outcomes: a) Effective governance framework for multiple-use mountain landscape management in place; b) Multiple-use mountain landscape management is applied securing the ecological integrity of HRML; and c) Strengthened capacities for community based sustainable use and management of wild resources.