Biological diversity which is also known as biodiversity refers to the variety of living organisms that are present on earth. The word biological diversity was firstly introduced by Charles Darwin, namely that all species were linked in a single great phylogeny or tree of life, and that all could be traced back to a presumed single original species at some distant time in the geological past. The first attempt to bring biodiversity into the legal framework was made by way of the biodiversity bill 2000 which was passed by the Lok Sabha on 2nd December 2002 and by Rajya Sabha on December 2002. It not only include species but also different types of plant and animals and human being living in our whole ecosystem. It also refers to the complex relationship among living things and between living things and their environment. It provides us several goods and services that sustain our life and environment on earth. It includes food, air, water, medicine, and many other natural resources. We need to save the biodiversity of our country because India had faced much destruction because of overpopulation, global warming, exploitation of resources.
The Indian Forest Act, 1927, the Wildlife Act, 1972, and the Forests Conservation Act, 1980 provided a legal framework for conservation. Subsequently, the National Forest Policy, 1988 led to significant growth of conservation efforts in the form of protected areas such as biosphere reserves, national parks, and bird sanctuaries. The National Forest Policy, 1988 brought major changes in the focus of forest planning. It changed the focus of conservation and management policies from production to conservation. Previously, states managed forests mainly for the production of timber and other forest products, which resulted in large-scale deforestation and loss of biodiversity in the country. But, after the introduction of the National Forest Policy, 1988, it became conservation-oriented. It emphasized the principle of environmental stability and ecological balance and initiated a process by which India’s forests wealth was treated as an environmental and social resource rather than as revenue or commercial resource.
Some Importance section of BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY ACT, 2002
The biological diversity act mainly aims at conserving our environment and maintaining the proper use of its components and see to it that there should be equal distribution of the benefits which we get from our ecosystem among everyone. Biodiversity is a very important aspect of our lives. we should value biodiversity more than anything for many reasons like what it gives to humans. There are many basic needs which we get from biodiversity like food, shelter, medicine, etc. so in this act, they have mentioned many things like what we can do and what we can’t with our ecosystem or biodiversity. The loss of biodiversity will have a very bad impact on every living being on this earth. we are causing much imbalance to our ecosystem which will eventually affect our natural resources. Before this act, India has many environmental laws but because of some emergency, they have to make a whole new act for biodiversity in 2002. India was a well-known country at that time and was called the greatest diverse country in the world and was holding the global record for being the home of the most unique species. It was very important for India to preserve its ecosystem so India took a step and signed the convention on biological diversity at Rio De Janeiro providing a foundation for sustainable development and preservation of its ecosystem by focusing a lot on natural resources. After these ten years later the biological diversity act 2002 was introduced. In this act, we have many different sections which focus on many different things like Sections 36, 37, and 38 which relates to developing national plans and programs for the conservation of biodiversity, powers given to state government to notify and preserve areas of biodiversity, and with the authority of the Central Government to notify species that are dangerously endangered, on the verge of extinction, threatened species, prohibiting their collection and so on. While sustainable use of its component would indicate towards regularising the use of natural resources and not exhausting it.
Section 21 of the Act determines the provision of benefit sharing. It aims to acquire equitable sharing of benefits emanating from the accessed biological resources, its by-products, knowledge, and practice related to it as per the set terms and conditions between the person applying for acquiring such benefits and the local bodies involved.
Section 36 talks about the role of the Central government in developing national strategies and plans for conservation purposes. The Central government has responsibilities such as:
It is duty-bound for formulating national strategies, plans, and programs to conserve and uphold the sustainable use of biological diversity.
If any area rich in biological diversity or such resources seems to be facing threats then it is the central government’s responsibility of notifying the respective state government and asking them to take appropriate steps to prevent it.
Composing sectoral and cross-sectoral plans and policies, which are practicable in the notified environment on the foundation of integration of conservation and the sustainable use of biological diversity.
The central government has to take measures for assessing the harmful effects of upcoming projects on biodiversity and to either prevent it or come up with techniques of diminishing such effects.
The central government must aspire to protect the traditional knowledge holders and their knowledge with methods including registration of such knowledge at the local, state, or national levels, and other measures necessary for protection and so on.
Section 37 of the Act involves the declaration of Biodiversity Heritage Sites about which the state government is required to notify about the areas of biodiversity heritage in the Official Gazette under this Act. It proceeds to protect the area rich with biodiversity in its natural surroundings. The biodiversity-rich landscape and ecosystems brought under already legally protected areas such as National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in a method similar to that of the declaration of Eco-sensitive areas as per the Environment Protection Act (1986). The Section also puts the responsibility on the state government to compensate people or sections of people economically affected by such declaration.
Without any sort of prejudice, Section 38 of the Act requires the Central Government, in deliberation with the concerned State Government, notifying from time to time about species that are on the verge of extinction or threatened species and prohibit its collection thereof for any trade purpose and put to action appropriate steps for the preservation of such species. Whereas Section 39 empowers the Central Government to designate repositories for biological material to be kept in safe custody.
But again under Section 40 of the act, the Central Government concerning the National Biodiversity Authority by notification in the Official Gazette can make declarations of the Act not applying to particular items, including biological resources normally the commodities. In the case of Environment Support Group v. National Biodiversity Authority, An appeal was made to declare Section 40 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 illegal and unconstitutional as serious prejudice was likely to be caused which could cause jeopardy to the national interest and biodiversity of certain species. It wanted to draw the attention of authorities towards public agricultural universities indulging in criminal biopiracy of local varieties of eggplant.
The petitioners also highlighted that they had got 18 critically endangered plants among its 190 plants as normally traded communities. The petition also argued that Section 40 of the Biodiversity Act, 2002 deemed to allow arbitrary and unfettered trade of India’s biological wealth leading to extensive bio-piracy. Although the National Biodiversity Board and Karnataka Biodiversity Board had filed a criminal complaint of biopiracy before the High Court of Karnataka, the petition filed for criminal proceedings in a relevant ruling of the High Court of Karnataka dismissed petitions and quashed criminal prosecution of the respondents who had been accused serious criminal acts of biopiracy by the National Biodiversity Authority and Karnataka State Biodiversity Board.
Section 8 lays down the provision of the establishment of the National Biodiversity Authority at the national level whereas Section 22 does the same for state biodiversity boards at the state level. Further Section 22(2) does not allow the State Biodiversity Board to be constituted for a Union territory. The National Biodiversity Authority shall exercise the powers and perform the functions of a State Biodiversity Board for that Union territory: Provided that with any Union territory, the National Biodiversity Authority may delegate all or any of its powers or functions under this subsection to such person or group of persons as specified by the Central Government.
The chairperson of the National Biodiversity Authority presides over the meetings and all questions are decided by the votes of all members present and voting. As per Section 13, the National Biodiversity Authority can form several committees as required for the effective and efficient discharge of its duties and functions under the Act. Such a committee should also choose people who are not members of the National Biodiversity Authority, as they might have the right to attend the meetings of the committee and take part in the proceedings but shall not have the right to vote.
As there are many positives effects of this act there comes negative also like many people try to earn money by selling the products which we get from our environment which is wrong because everyone is having equal rights in the ecosystem and no one can charge anything for this. Because nature can’t just take care of themselves we as humans have to take care of them and it is not wrong because they give us so many things so we can at least do this much for them but it requires money so here it’s a negative point that for conserving our ecosystem we have to invest in it. And as we want to conserve our ecosystem we have to face many problems also like the population of animals will increase and they will start eating our crops which is not right. And because there will be too many animals the forest area will become small and the animals will start moving towards our land and because of this, there will be many diseases spreading in human beings. The government does not take any action against this and overlooks this thing. There should be proper guidelines for this so that no one has any right to it. This act will work properly if the government will start on focusing on these things and they should take required actions wherever needed. As we have seen many times the plans are made properly but no one is there to implement them. And thus there is no improvement which takes place in it. Because of this we can see many worse situations around us like continue increase in the population because of factory waste and chemical pollutants etc. Rivers around us are getting worse because of pollution. If everyone will start working hand in hand and be active about everything and make them aware of the environmental harms caused by their actions then such things can be done easily. Everyone should do their work responsibly towards protecting our environment. If we work together we can handle many such situations properly. The government should make a committee of professionals and the local people so that there will be no conflicts between anyone.
If we want to save our biodiversity we all have to come together and work for it. The main motive of the central government should be the conservation of our ecosystem. And they must see to it that everything which we get from our environment is distributed equally among everyone. There should be proper guidance to everyone for the work. If we want to see our species for a very long time then we have to conserve them properly so that our future generations can also enjoy them. The government should organize programs related to this and people should take part in it actively. There should be a proper budget fix for this activity and the youth of the country should be given more chances so that they can learn the importance of it. In the past India had also organized many conservation projects like PROJECT TIGER in 1973, PROJECT ELEPHANT in 1992, PROJECT CROCODILE in 1975, Conservation project for musk deer in 1974, etc. So like this one, we want more projects to be help and everyone should come together and preserve our ecosystem for our future generation.
Name:- Akshay Chaudhary
Email ID:- firstname.lastname@example.org
Third-year BALLB of The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat.