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Celebrating Biodiversity

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY – June 5, 2020

VIRTUAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW: CELEBRATE BIODIVERSITY

Gujarat National Law College, Gandhigram, Gujarat

CELEBRATING BIODIVERSITY

by

Nanditha Krishna

In 2002, the Indian Parliament enacted the Biological Diversity Act followed by the National Biodiversity Rules in 2004. The main objectives of the Act were the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. Earlier, the Wildlife Protection Act, 1973, and its 1991 Amendment provided for the protection of birds and animals, while the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, a vast improvement on the earlier Act of 1927, was intended to provide a high level of protection to the forests and to regulate diversion of forest lands for non-forestry purposes.

Biodiversity – or biological diversity – includes all the organisms found on our planet, the plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genes they contain and the different ecosystems of which they form a part. India is one of only seventeen mega diverse nations in the world, with over 85,000 out of 12,00,000 animal species in the world, and 45,000 out of 3,90,000 plant species. It is estimated that the world knows only about 17,70,000 species out of 5 to 10 million. We hardly know what we have, leave alone what we have lost.

Biodiversity is essential to the survival of every species, as each organism is linked to another in a fragile web of life. These form a food chain that links food producers to consumers, and maintains ecosystem diversity. The amount of green plants in any environment should be much more than the animals or insects that feed on them. Humans are only a strand in this delicate web of relationships. Every living creature is a part of a food chain. There are several food chains which, depending on the environment, could be simple or complex. But all food chains are fragile, and if even one link is broken, it sets off a series of reactions that could cause the collapse of the ecosystem. If predators are killed, the herbivores will multiply and eat up green plants and grains, leaving the land barren and unproductive. This is how a biologically-rich region like North Africa became the Sahara Desert. What would happen to public health if scavenger birds like the vulture were wiped out? Every species has its role, making species diversity essential.

Loss of biodiversity impacts immediately. There is the example of the genetic similarity of Brazil’s orange trees causing a terrible outbreak of citrus canker in 1991. The rapid deterioration of the ecology due to human interference is aiding the rapid disappearance of several wild plant and animal species.

As natural resources are depleted, there is less to go around, less to share. Economic, social and political problems are a natural corollary. Water, the most important natural resource which comes from hills and forests, is a source of discord today.

Loss of biodiversity is a threat to civilization, second only to thermo-nuclear war in its severity. The consequences could be quite incalculable. Other environmental problems like pollution, global warming and ozone depletion could be overcome, but not the erosion of biodiversity or extinction of species. Species once lost cannot be brought back.

The current Covid 19 pandemic, which has emerged from the wet animal markets of Wuhan, China, is the result of human interference with nature, the destruction of the intricate web of life and the loss of biodiversity. The virus always existed. Its predator is missing. Habitat destruction, air and water pollution, indiscriminate poaching and killing of wildlife, intensive farming of animals and the disappearing green cover have combined to cause global warming, climate change and now this destructive pandemic.

In this lockdown, people are celebrating the return of avian and terrestrial wildlife, or birds and animals in cities and in the countryside. Air and water pollution have decreased, while the North Pole’s largest-ever Ozone hole has finally closed. What humans could not achieve despite spending millions of dollars or rupees, Nature has achieved – a rejuvenation of planet earth. Humans are a very small part of the web of life, but cause the greatest damage. Celebrating biodiversity is celebrating Mother Earth.

I would like to end with a hymn to the tree and the forest from the Rig Veda (IX 5.10.):

The cosmos is a tree with a thousand branches…

The tree is the lord of the forest…

Which is a symbol of life that is self-regenerating and immortal…

And a Hymn to the Earth from the Atharva Veda’s Bhoomi Sukta (XII.I.26, 28):

Earth, my mother, set me securely with bliss…

The earth, which possesses oceans, rivers and other sources of water;

Which gives us land to produce food grains on which human beings depend for their survival;

May it grant us all our needs for eating and drinking: water, cereals and fruit.

​Let us celebrate biodiversity by making time and space for nature, by remembering that the earth was made for animals and plants too. Ahimsa is non-violence in thought word and action, and non-violence to all creation would be the best celebration of biodiversity.

June 5, 2020 global online broadcast, World Environment Day, 2020:

https://www.wedonthavetime.org/events/worldenvironmentday

Hinduism and Nature, as well as several of Dr. Nanditha Krishna’s other

books, can be found on Amazon.

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This 17 June 2020 video says about itself:

Oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer Paola Rodriguez works to restore coral reefs in her native Mexico. Once thought impossible, Paola and her team are proving that reefs can recover from even serious damage if given a chance.

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and picnicking,

are perfect during a pandemic.

No one here but us turkeys.

Well there are lots and lots of coyotes skulking about….

and cacti blooming everywhere.

The pasture below The Holler is happy due to all the rain,

and this is our peaceful morning view.

Cheers to to you, from all of us, hunkered down at The Holler, with hopes you are staying safe and well~

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The Extinction Chronicles

A border clash between the two nuclear armed neighbors has drawn the world’s gaze to a disputed region in the Himalayas.
Image: Galwan Valley

Galwan Valley, which lies between China’s Tibet and India’s Ladakh regions on Tuesday. 2020 Planet Labs, Inc. / AFP – Getty Images

By Saphora Smith

High up in the Himalayas, Indian and Chinese armed forces warily eye each other across a disputed border region that has become the scene of a tense standoff between the two nuclear powers.

The conflict in the remote Galwan Valley that spans their shared border sparked into life Monday with the killing of 20 Indian soldiers, the first reported deaths in 45 years. China has not disclosed whether its forces suffered any casualties, according to a report in its state-run newspaper, the Global Times.

The deaths have drawn the world’s gaze to a region that the two most populous countries have been…

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Dear Kitty. Some blog

This 17 June 2020 video says about itself:

Ecuador: ‘Diego’ the turtle, who sired 800 babies and saved his species, returns home after 87 years

Mandatory Credit: Ministry of Environment and Water of Ecuador

‘Diego’, the world’s most famous giant tortoise, returned to Espanola Island in the Galapagos archipelago on Monday after helping breed some 800 turtle hatchlings in captivity, saving his species from extinction.

Diego and 15 other turtles that were part of the project were subjected to a quarantine process and internal deworming. They were then fitted with an identification microchip before leaving Santa Cruz Island on board a boat bound for Espanola Island.

Diego had remained in captivity for decades, helping to multiply the endemic population of giant tortoises from 15 to 2,300, and in so doing becoming recognised as the saviour of his species.

The repopulation project began in the 1960s after experts determined that…

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Dear Kitty. Some blog

This 2018 video is called Beautiful hummingbirds show off their breathtaking colors.

From Princeton University in the USA:

Spectacular bird’s-eye view? Hummingbirds see diverse colors humans can only imagine

Team trains wild hummingbirds to discriminate UV color combinations

June 15, 2020

Summary: While humans have three color cones in the retina sensitive to red, green and blue light, birds have a fourth color cone that can detect ultraviolet light. A research team trained wild hummingbirds to perform a series of experiments that revealed that the tiny birds also see combination colors like ultraviolet+green and ultraviolet+red.

To find food, dazzle mates, escape predators and navigate diverse terrain, birds rely on their excellent color vision.

“Humans are color-blind compared to birds and many other animals,” said Mary Caswell Stoddard, an assistant professor in the Princeton University Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Humans have three types of color-sensitive cones in their eyes…

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Dear Kitty. Some blog

The newly discovered bird sculpture, photo  Li et al | Plos OneFrom PLOS ONE, 10 June 2020:

A Paleolithic bird figurine from the Lingjing site, Henan, China

Abstract

The recent identification of cave paintings dated to 42–40 ka BP in Borneo and Sulawesi highlights the antiquity of painted representations in this region. However, no instances of three-dimensional portable art, well attested in Europe since at least 40 ka BP, were documented thus far in East Asia prior to the Neolithic.

Here, we report the discovery of an exceptionally well-preserved miniature carving of a standing bird from the site of Lingjing, Henan, China. Microscopic and microtomographic analyses of the figurine and the study of bone fragments from the same context reveal the object was made of bone blackened by heating and carefully carved with four techniques that left diagnostic traces on the entire surface of the object.

Critical analysis of the site’s research history and stratigraphy, the cultural remains associated with…

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Dear Kitty. Some blog

This 2012 video is called Monk Parakeets In The Wild – (Myiopsitta monachus).

From the University of Cincinnati in the USA:

Twitter fight: Birds use social networks to pick opponents wisely

Biologists are studying dominance hierarchies in monk parakeets

June 9, 2020

Summary: Researchers say animals such as monk parakeets seem to understand where they fit in a dominance hierarchy and pick their fights accordingly. This high-level social information helps animals improve or maintain their status.

Knowing when to fight and when to flee is a big part of many animal societies, including our own.

University of Cincinnati biologist Elizabeth Hobson says some animals make the call based on a sophisticated understanding of social standing and their place in it.

“We have a phrase: Choose your battles wisely. Animals do that. People do that,” said Hobson, an assistant professor in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

In a new article

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Dear Kitty. Some blog

This June 2020 video shows birds (like barn swallows) and bees of Voorne island in the Netherlands.

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Dear Kitty. Some blog

This 24 January 2020 video from Scotland says about itself:

Did you know that beavers have a ripple effect on the biodiversity of their habitat? The way they change and manage the landscape creates a haven for wildlife and the ecosystem as a whole, including small mammals, birds of prey, plants, trees and lichens, invertebrates and water-dwellers. Thanks again to Louise Ramsay and the Bamff Estate in Perthshire.

A film for WoodlandsTV by Jemma Cholawo.

From the University of Eastern Finland:

Beavers are diverse forest landscapers

June 10, 2020

Beavers are ecosystem engineers that cut down trees to build dams, eventually causing floods. Beaver-induced floods make forest landscapes and habitats increasingly diverse, but very little is known about the long-term effects of beavers on European landscapes. Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Helsinki examined the history and occurrence of beaver-induced…

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