Biodiversity encompasses the variability among living organisms. India’s unique biogeographical location at the convergence of the Afro-tropical, Indo-Malayan, and Paleo-Arctic realms contributes to its remarkable biological diversity. This amalgamation of realms significantly contributes to the nation’s rich and distinctive biodiversity.

Variations Across Biogeographic Regions:

Himalayan Region:

  • Altitude gradient results in diverse biodiversity.
  • Eastern Himalayas house tropical rainforests; central and western Himalayas have dense subtropical and alpine forests.
  • Fauna: Snow leopard, brown bear, Himalayan thar, sambar, muntjac serow, and goral.

Indian Desert:

  • Natural vegetation: Tropical thorn forests, tropical dry deciduous forests, sandy deserts, seasonal salt marshes, and mangroves.
  • Thar desert showcases significant insect species diversity.
  • Fauna: 43 reptile species, notable bird endemism.

Western Ghats:

  • Range of forests: Evergreen to dry deciduous.
  • Unique species: Nilgiri langur, Lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri tahr, Malabar grey hornbill, many amphibians.
  • High endemism in this zone.

Deccan Peninsula:

  • Encompasses tropical forests, particularly tropical dry deciduous forests.
  • Prominent fauna: Tiger, sloth bear, gaur, wild boar, sambar, chital.

Gangetic Plains:

  • Encompasses tropical dry deciduous forests, littoral regions, and Sunderbans mangroves.
  • Noteworthy fauna: Elephants, blackbuck, rhinoceros, Bengal florican, crocodile, freshwater turtle.
  • Dense waterfowl community also thrives.

North East:

  • Rich tropical vegetation: Evergreen and semi-evergreen rainforests, monsoon forests, swamps, grasslands.
  • Abundant mammalian fauna, with 63% found in Assam.

Indian Islands:

  •  Over 2,200 higher plant species, many of which are endemic.

Role of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002:

  • Establishment of Authorities: Creation of National Biodiversity Authority, State Biodiversity Boards, and Biodiversity Management Committees for effective resource management.
  • Protection of Traditional Knowledge: Emphasis on preserving local communities’ traditional knowledge related to biodiversity.
  • Equitable Benefit Sharing: Ensuring local communities receive benefits from the use of biological resources.
  • Recognition of Conservers: Acknowledgment of local people as conservers and holders of knowledge about biological resources.
  • Heritage Site Preservation: Provisions for State Governments, in consultation with local bodies, to designate heritage sites, leading to improved preservation efforts.

India’s biodiversity is a reflection of its distinct biogeographic realms. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002, plays a pivotal role in conserving this invaluable biodiversity by establishing regulatory mechanisms, safeguarding traditional knowledge, promoting equitable benefit sharing, and encouraging the preservation of heritage sites. Through these measures, the Act contributes significantly to the conservation of India’s diverse flora and fauna.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish May 13, 2024