31 bio-diversity hotspots identified in Tripura

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Agartala, Jul 16: The Tripura government has decided to conduct an extensive survey of the flora and fauna of the state under bio-diversity conservation project funded by the Japan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC).

Experts have identified as many as 31 bio-diversity hotspots in the state, including 21 in South and West Tripura districts. In a two-day workshop on 'Identification of Biodiversity Hotspots of Tripura' here today, the experts opined that the state falls within the Bio-geographic Zone of 9B-NE hills and possesses an extremely rich biodiversity, which is under threat because of relentless human activities.

The objective of the workshop was to have an update on the status of 36 hotspots and to prioritise them on the basis of their conservation index and gain insight for the detailed biodiversity inventory in the state in future.

Leading Tripura-based private research and advocacy organisation ARPAN demanded to address four major issues of bio-diversity degradation - indiscriminate use of grasslands, poor management of wetlands and water bodies, destruction of natural forests and destruction of big trees for development activities.

ARPAN Secretary Jayanta Choudhury said developing fodder grassland through Artificial Regeneration Methods to promote cattle farming as well as save the grasslands for maintaining soil moisture and recharging ground water table and aquifers was necessary.

The experts opined that wetland management and water bodies conservation in Tripura were not scientific because the administration, including Agartala Municipal Authorities, had been leasing all the ponds for fishing purposes and fishermen never bothered about the ecosystem or flora.

The experts also suggested to contain human activities in natural water bodies, discontinue settlements in wetland areas and assessment of pre-development watershed conditions.

With regard to conservation of natural forests ARPAN demanded immediate imposition of ban on monoculture of forests or plantations, as it created imbalance in the atmosphere and influenced abiotic factors like temperature, which finally led to global warming while suggesting to promote composite forestry for better environment and bio-diversity.

Mr Choudhury also criticised the development approaches of the state and said according to international standards four steps were adopted for any development work - setting goals and priorities, followed by developing strategies and taking action and measures of success.

''But unfortunately in Tripura development work starts with taking action (cutting trees or natural resources) followed by measures of success (hypothesis of work), setting goals and priorities and finally developing strategies,'' Mr Choudhury said.

''Major conceptual change is needed in development work by making regulatory bodies understand the seriousness of the issues and prioritise capacity building and training for policy makers to common people as well as community mobilisation,'' Mr Choudhury added.

UNI

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