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International Day for Biological Diversity

On International Day for Biological Diversity, annually observed on May 22, we human beings focus on the need to protect our environment and preserve the biodiversity of the planet. There is only one animal that causes harm to biological diversity and it is we humans.

Why Is May 22 Observed As International Day for Biological Diversity?

The United Nations’ (U.N.) Convention of Biological Diversity came into force on December 29, 1993, and the U.N. initially designated that day The International Day for Biological Diversity. However, in 2000, the day was changed to May 22 to coincide with the date of the adoption of the text of the Convention. This was also because in many countries December 29 is part of the holiday season, making it difficult for them to hold activities. Though the dates changed, the aim of the day remained the same – “to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues”.

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity refers to the various life forms - flora and fauna – on Earth. It is very vital because each life form has a role to play in keeping the planet thriving.

No matter how developed we’re scientifically, the reality is that we’re dependent on nature for survival. The loss of ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity has a direct impact on us too. If each of us builds a harmonious relationship with nature, there’s hope for a better future. And it’s this thought the day focuses on.

India is one of the mega­-biodiverse countries in the world. Though it constitutes less than 2.5% of the world's total land area, it holds nearly 8% of all species ever recorded – more than 1,00,000 species of fauna and 47,000 flora. It has nearly half the world’s aquatic plants too.

This biodiversity is hosted by many types of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, grasslands, deserts, coastal, and marine regions.

Many species of animals, birds, reptiles, marine creatures and plants are endemic (found only in one region) to India. It is also the only country to have both lions (Asiatic lion) and tigers (Bengal tigers) in the wild. A sub­species, the hard ground barasingha is found only in India.

Of the 34 biodiversity hotspots (places rich in wildlife but threatened) in the world, India is home to four ­ The Himalayas, the Western Ghats, the North­East, and the Nicobar Islands.

The Sumatran rhinoceros, Indian cheetah, pink headed duck and the Himalayan quail, and 18 species of plants have gone extinct in India in the last few centuries alone. Several species, including the great Indian bustard, Bengal florican, the Ganga River dolphin, and pygmy hog, are in peril.

Several factors such as deforestation, development activities, poaching, hunting and pollution across the country are resulting in the loss of habitat and biodiversity.

What We Can Do?

Just a few simple steps can bring us close to Nature, understand it better and help us find ways to preserve it. Here are a few suggestions
Visit a national park in your city to see wildlife in their natural habitat and learn more about them.
Watch birds from your window; keep a record of their habits. Build a bird house.
Walk around your neighborhood and make a list of the variety of trees and their inhabitants.
Raise flowering plants and / or fruit bearing trees in and around your house and just see how many insects, birds and animals visit them!
Do not keep wild animals / birds as pets.

Notes and image source - In School The Hindu Friday May 22, 2020 Issue