Friday, 12 December 2014 04:22




The word "biodiversity" is an abbreviated version of "biological diversity". The Convention on Biological Diversity defines biodiversity as: "the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems."

Thus, Biodiversity refers to the variety of forms - the different plants, animals and micro-organisms. It also includes the genes they contain and the ecosystem they form.

One of the most pressing environmental issues today is the conservation of bio-diversity.  Conserving biological diversity involves restoring, protecting, conserving or enhancing the variety of life in an area so that the abundance and distribution of species and communities provide for continued existence and normal ecological functioning, including adaptation and extinction.

In-situ conservation of biodiversity includes:

a) Biosphere reserves: Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are internationally recognized, nominated by national governments and remain under sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. Biosphere reserves serve in some ways as 'living laboratories' for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity.

Each biosphere reserve is intended to fulfil 3 basic functions, which are complementary and mutually reinforcing:

• a conservation function - to contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation;

• a development function - to foster economic and human development which is socio culturally and ecologically sustainable;

• A logistic function - to provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development.

Biosphere reserves are organized into 3 interrelated zones:

• Core Areas: These areas are securely protected sites for conserving biological diversity, monitoring minimally disturbed ecosystems, and undertaking non-destructive research and other low-impact uses (such as education).

• Buffer Zones: These areas must be clearly identified, and usually surround or adjoin the Core Areas. Buffer Zones may be used for cooperative activities compatible with sound ecological practices, including environmental education, recreation, ecotourism and applied and basic research.

• Transition or Cooperation Zones: These areas may contain towns, farms, fisheries, and other human activities and are the areas where local communities, management agencies, scientists, non-governmental organizations, cultural groups, economic interests, and other stakeholders work together to manage and sustainably develop the area's resources.

b) National parks: A national park is a reserve of natural or semi-natural land, declared or owned by a government, which is restricted from most development and is set aside for human recreation and environmental protection.

A national park was deemed to be a place

• With one or several ecosystems not materially altered by human exploitation and occupation, where plant and animal species, geomorphologic sites and habitats are of special scientific, educative and recreative interest or which contain a natural landscape of great beauty.

• The highest competent authority of the country has taken steps to prevent or eliminate exploitation or occupation as soon as possible in the whole area and to effectively enforce the respect of ecological, geomorphological, or aesthetic features which have led to its establishment.

• Visitors are allowed to enter, under special conditions, for inspirational, educative, cultural, and recreative purposes.

c) Wildlife sanctuaries: An area, usually in natural conditions, which is reserved (set aside) by a governmental or private agency for the protection of particular species of animals during part or all of the year. An area designated for the protection of wild animals, within which hunting and fishing is either prohibited or strictly controlled. It is maintained by the State government.

Ex-situ conservation of biodiversity includes:

Ex situ conservation, using sample populations is done through establishment of 'gene banks', which include genetic resource centres, zoos, botanical gardens, culture collections, etc.

ZOO and BOTANICAL GARDENS are the most conventional methods of ex-situ conservation. These facilities provide not only housing and care for specimens of endangered species, but also have an educational value. They inform the public of the threatened status of endangered species and of those factors which cause the threat, with the hope of creating public interest in stopping and reversing those factors which jeopardize a species' survival in the first place. They are the most publicly visited ex-situ conservation sites.

Endangered plants may also be preserved in parts through SEED BANKS or GERM PLASM BANKS. The term seed bank sometimes refers to a cryogenic laboratory facility in which the seeds of certain species can be preserved for up to a century or more without losing their fertility. It can also be used to refer to a special type of arboretum where seeds are harvested and the crop is rotated. For plants that cannot be preserved in seed banks, the only other option for preserving germplasm is in-vitro storage, where cuttings of plants are kept under strict conditions in glass tubes and vessels.

Endangered animal species are preserved using similar techniques. The genetic information needed in the future to reproduce endangered animal species can be preserved in gene banks, which consist of cryogenic facilities used to store living sperms, eggs, or embryos.