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In an attempt to kick off efforts aimed at conservation of biodiversity of the Western Ghats in a sustainable manner, the Second Indian Biodiversity Congress (IBC), will deliberate seriously on the topic and also discuss threadbare the pros and cons with regard to this. The IBC, scheduled to get underway at the JN Tata Auditorium, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore from December 9-11, will have as a focal theme session on ‘Biodiversity of the Western Ghats - Challenges and Strategies for Conservation and Sustainable Management’.
Speakers of eminence, including Madhav Gadgil, chairman WGEEP, VB Mathur of Wildlife Institute of India, Michel Danino, Prof, MP Nayar, former director, Botanical Survey of India, RR Rao, INSA Honorary Scientist, Om Rajora of Canada, Ganesiah, Dr Sanjay Molur, director, Zoo Outreach Organisation, Venugopal, director, National Museum of Natural History, VS Vijayan, former Chairman, Kerala State Biodiversity Board, Prof, M.K. Prasad and Kalyan Varma will be among those who would participate in the deliberations.
The session will also critically analyse the points forwarded by various governments against the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) and the Unesco Heritage status to the Western Ghats.
The Unesco’s World Heritage Committee had already named the Western Ghats of India as a world heritage site on July 1, 2012. The decision will ensure the mountain range, spread across seven states, gets international support for its conservation. The Western Ghats extend from Dang in Maharashtra-Gujarat to a place near Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, along the western coast; and is spread over 7,953 sq km.
Older than the Himalayas, the Western Ghats mountain chain is recognised as one of the world’s eight “hottest hot spots” of biological diversity. The World Heritage Committee, which met at St Petersburg in Russia, acknowledged that the Western Ghats forests include some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests anywhere and are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish species. Its ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern.
The WGEEP was constituted by the Union ministry in February 2010 to assess the status of ecology of the Western Ghats and to recommend measures for conservation, protection and rejuvenation of the region. The panel, headed by environmentalist Madhav Gadgil, had identified several eco-sensitive zones in the region. Many of the states opposed the heritage tag for the Western Ghats, saying it will restrict the development.
In addition, the Indian Biodiversity Congress - CEPF Special Session on the Biodiversity of Western Ghats would provide a platform to discuss the overall strategies and action plans required for biodiversity conservation and to share the experiences and results of projects implemented under Western Ghats Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) co-ordinated by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology & the Environment (ATREE).
The session will also witness YB Ramakrishna, executive chairman, Karnataka State Bio Fuel Development Board, presenting the scope for biofuel production in India and the sustainable ways of enhancing it, without tampering biodiversity. This is particularly important when the Conference of the Parties of Convention on Biological Diversity has decided to integrate the issue of biofuel production and use into the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity, in particular by addressing biofuel production, especially when based on feedstock produced through agriculture.