conservation of biodiversity

Need for conservation?

Gradual increase in Human population causes increasing needs of various types. Continuous increases in population cause an increasing demand for resources. This create a situation when the non-renewable resources may come to an end after some time. In order to have maximum production, we would be using all those resources which are in-fact the property of future generation. It is a matter of grave concern. There must be some sort of balance between the population growth and the utilisation of natural resources.

The non-availability of resources and their rise in cost are having an adverse effect on the economic structure of countries. During 1980s, the world has experienced a state of imbalance between the growth rates of population and economic development. The prices of resources like petroleum, after 1973s oil crisis, showed an abrupt hike. Hence, the growth rates of food production and economic development suffered setbacks.

There are a number of other such examples. In some areas, there is scarcity of water for agriculture and industry whereas in other there are problems of water-logging due to over-irrigation. In some countries much of underground water is being utilised for the production of food grain. This has-resulted in lowering of water table. There is, thus a need for water conservation all over the world.

Conservation may be concerned with complete elimination of some unique species for which there may be no alternative at all. It is therefore in our own interest to conserve our plant, animal and microbial wealth. There is global realisation about the urgent need to conserve the biological diversity.

Conservation may be defined as “the management for the benefit of all life including humankind of the biosphere so that it may yield sustainable benefit to the present generation while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of the future generations.”

Conservation has three specific objectives:

(i) To maintain essential ecological process and life support system;

(ii) To preserve biological diversity; and

(iii) To ensure that any utilisation of species and ecosystems is sustainable. Conservation therefore makes important contribution to social and economic development of a nation.

Conservation of biodiversity:

There are two main categories of conservation, in situ conservation and ex situ conservation of biodiversity.

1. In situ conservation:

This is the conservation of genetic resources through their maintenance within natural or even human eco systems in which they occur. This is an ideal system for genetic resources conservation. This type includes a system of protected areas of different categories, managed with different objectives to bring benefit to the society. National parks. Sanctuaries, Nature Reserves and Monuments, Cultural Landscapes, Biosphere Reserves etc. belong to this type of conservation. In situ conservation therefore is related to natural condition.

2. Ex situ conservation:

This is conservation outside their habitats by perpetuating sample populations in genetic resource centres, zoos, botanical gardens, culture collections etc. or in the form of gene pools and gamete storage for fish; germplasm banks for seeds, pollen, semen ova, cells etc. Plants are more readily maintained than animals. In this type of conservation seed banks, botanical gardens pollen storage, tissue culture and genetic engineering play important role.

In India a large number of institutions are involved in conservation and utilisation of biodiversity. These fall under Ministries of Environment and Forests, Agriculture, and Science and Technology. Between them, they are dealing with in situ conservation (parks, sanctuaries) ex situ conservation (gene banks, seed banks) and utilisation respectively