Nature's Narrative Vol. 3(I)
Indian Wetlands Update
Indian Living Planet Report
According to a recent 'Living Planet' report, India has lost nearly a third of its wetlands due to urbanization, agricultural proliferation, and large pollution in the last four decades. It is reported that the amphibians and fishes have declined by 84 percent in last four decades which makes it the "sixth mass extinction in history". It can increase the water temperature to unprecedented levels.
India has a long practice of trade of fisheries for making jewels. Majorly North-eastern states use fishes for such purposes. Given the impending danger posed by such a reduction, India should immediately frame laws to safeguard wetlands. The rural people are to be made aware of the importance of Wetlands, as it happened with forests and dolphins, to stop them from treating Wetlands as wastelands.
Indian Transport Sector Update
Net Zero Carbon Emitter: Indian Railways
Indian Railways is set to become "net Zero carbon emitter" by 2030, it is one of the biggest railway networks on earth. The growth in the railway network would therefore curb the pollution levels. The Indian government is deliberating on greening the railway lines with a mission to electrify the whole network in the next half-decade. Electrification will put a stop to the diesel engine and the pollution ensuing therefrom. This would replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind energy, etc. A source estimates that this would eliminate emissions of 7.5 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Transport sector's contribution to the pollution levels is a whopping 12 percent with railway accounts for only four percent. This program has been supported by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Indian railways have committed to increase the amount of freight transported by rail from about 35 per cent in 2015 to 45 per cent by 2030One solution is to actually use the railways more and road transport less.
Animal Bridges in India
The new Delhi-Mumbai expressway will have India's first-ever animal overpasses. These will be on lines of the "animal bridges" of European nations. Wildlife crossings are a practice in habitat conversation allowing connections or connections between habitats, combating habitat fragmentation. They were started as an infrastructural solution to ensure safe passages for wild animals in Europe in the 1950s. These structures may be underpass tunnel, the overpass bridges, or canopy bridges.
In 2019, train accidents killed more than sixty elephants and eight tigers in such accidents. Therefore, these passageways will ensure there are no such casualties; most importantly near the Ranthambore and Mukundra (Darrah) Wildlife sanctuaries in Rajasthan.
Indian Ecosystem Update
The Great Indian Bastards being threatened
The construction of some high-rise buildings in the Ballari district of Karnataka has led to abandonment of this area by the Great Indian Bustards (GIB). Ballari is only breeding grounds for GIB in Peninsular India and the largest breeding ground of GIB is in Rajasthan. They are on the verge of extinction in India. They have not been seen for a long time and experts believe that they may have abandoned the region due to disturbances created by construction and plantation work in the area.
India has the only population of GIB in the world with the right documented GIBs. GIB is categorized as "critically endangered" in IUCN Red List and accorded the highest protection as Schedule I species under India's Wildlife Protection Act.
Invasive Latana weeds threatens normal ecosystem
An invasive weed called Lantana has trapped around 269 protected areas in eighteen states in India. A recent sampling effort counted that around 44 percent of Indian forests are affected by Lantana. Lantana Camara is a species woody shrub of American origin which could degrade the biodiversity of the region. India has little knowledge about Lantana where it might have introduced as hedge plants more than two centuries back.
A recent study indicates that the dissemination of Lantana may be caused by increasing humidity in forest areas. The frequent burning of the forest could also be a cause of germination and invasion of lantana. The gigantic amount of deforestation of native plants also make conditions favorable for lantana.