- Introduction on biodiversity.
- Mention the background for BDA enactment – the CBD.
- Mention the working of BDA 2002 citing one case study (Tamil Nadu)
- Conclusion highlighting community participation.
Biodiversity refers to the variability of life forms on Earth and the complex ecological processes that accompanies it.
Community awareness got reflected on April 22, 1970, when millions of people dotted the streets of US to protest against the environmental destruction and plundering of its resources. Thus began the 1st Earth Day. 20 years later, around a billion people from more than 190 countries demanded action mobilisation to protect the environment, culminating at the ‘Earth Summit’ in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted. The CBD aimed at conserving biodiversity sustainably for the benefit of present & future generations. Its objectives are – (a) biodiversity conservation, (b) sustainable use of its components and, (c) fair & equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources.
India’s participation : India enacted the Biological Diversity Act (BDA) 2002 in consonance with CBD and its objectives. Biodiversity supports socio-economic systems by providing direct & indirect benefits. Also, it is integral to people’s well-being, since many indigenous communities depend on their surroundings for their livelihoods. The principle of ‘access and benefit sharing (ABS)’ seeks to compensate local communities, whose areas’ resources are accessed, in monetary / non-monetary terms. Thus, the responsibility of community participation becomes pivotal in biodiversity conservation.
The working of BDA Act can be exemplified by Tamil Nadu’s experience. The objectives of BDA have been achieved over the years by Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board (TNBB) established under the BDA 2002. Tamil Nadu has established more than 13,000 Biodiversity Management Committees at the urban & local body levels to profile biological resources and ensure their conservation & sustainable use. The BMCs at the village panchayat level accounts for 92% of the total BMCs in the state. They have provided in-person training & Rs. 50,672 to 90 model BMCs for their effective functioning. In addition, training was imparted to BMCs of 29 districts at district, block & panchayat levels by March 2022. TNBB has received ABS funds of Rs. 1.74 crore through NBA and 2.56 lakh from companies accessing biological resources. BDA 2002 mandates that sites rich in biodiversity may be declared as Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS), that will provide conservation along with preserving traditional livelihood means of local communities. In Tamil Nadu, 36 proposals for BHS were received, of which 10 were short listed for review – Arittapatti (Madurai), Vagaikulam (Tirunelveli) and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (Coimbatore) await the process of being declared as BHS.
Thus communities have the opportunity to partake in conserving biodiversity in their areas through local BMCs. The local community is an important stakeholder in preparing People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) – a document containing information about biological resources in a region & associated local knowledge base. A participatory exercise with locals is important to incorporate local traditional knowledge & practices. PBR also helps promote the region’s micro economy by making the local communities aware of the bio-resources, so that they can make informed decisions about their use & access furthering sustainability. The Earth Day 2022 theme “Invest in our planet” provides further impetus to realise the objectives of CBD and BDA 2002