“Sustainability is treating ourselves and our environment as if we are to live on this earth forever.” One of the world’s most renowned environmentalists, Mr. Arron Wood, explained why and how important the sustainability of the environment is for humankind. The dependence of the community on its environment makes them responsible for the sustainability of the place in which they live. Not only the flora and fauna but also the tribal communities residing in or around Biosphere reserves and Wildlife sanctuaries are of great significance. Hence making it our duty to travel cautiously without harming or causing any disturbance to any segment of nature.
Biodiversity, in simple words, is the variation among living organisms from different sources including territorial, marine, and desert ecosystems. It describes the richness and variety of life on earth. Now the question arises how can we protect and conserve Biodiversity?
BIOSPHERE RESERVES, WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES, AND NATIONAL PARKS
According to UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Biosphere Reserves are learning places for sustainable development. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. Currently, there are 727 Biosphere reserves in 131 countries that belong to World Network of Biosphere Reserves. A typical biosphere reserve is divided into the following:-
- Core (no human activity is there),
- Buffer (limited human activity is permitted),
- Manipulation zone (several human activities can occur in this zone).
Wildlife Sanctuaries are similar but still significantly distinct from Biosphere reserves. It is a natural habitat, owned by the government or private agency that safeguards a particular species of birds and animals. While, biosphere reserves is a reserved area of land established by the government to protect the environment as a whole. In Wildlife sanctuaries, restrictions are less and open to visitations by the general public.
National parks are notified areas that cover a larger area of land which may cover multiple National Parks, Sanctuaries, and reserves as well. National parks are highly restrictive in nature and random access to the general public is not allowed. Around 100 National parks are there in India itself.
TRAVELLING THROUGH NATURE
Since National Parks are very restrictive, the only possible human interaction with the splendid beauty if nature and environment is via Biosphere reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries. INDIA is filled with these reserves and sanctuaries with around 18 biosphere reserves and more than 550 sanctuaries giving the people a great opportunity to experience environment at its best.
As we discussed the matter with the officers of INDIAN FOREST SERVICES, one of them, on the condition of anonymity shared that “Biosphere reserves and Wildlife sanctuaries are one of the most important ways and factors revolving around the conservation and protecting the wildlife. These are the areas that not just provide a safe haven but also, untouched required habitat to great extent. The ground reality is that there are certain areas demarcated where some activities are allowed, some areas where minor activities are allowed and some areas where no activity is allowed at all. When it comes to minor activities, they are generally related for scientific research and preservation activities. These areas are very attractive in context of travel and tourism, as they provide with preserved wildlife in their natural sense. It provides us humans as an elevated opportunity, which is very important as if tomorrow the wildlife does not exist, that particular sense of elevation will be gone forever. The government and the forest department have also come up with new concepts like ECO-tourism, where tourists are given certain responsibilities to manage what is supposed to happen in these areas, and most importantly to keep the environment clean and appropriate for natural habitat and environment. There are certain GEO TAGS assigned to particular areas to protect the flora and fauna from cruel activities like hunting and poaching. All strategies cannot be shared in great detail and are strictly on needs to know basis, as it can be leaked to the hunters and poachers, but there are regular patrolling and random checks to catch the smugglers and hunters. Whenever an animal dies, there are certain due processes. They are completely different for all the animals. They are paid last tribute and buried or burnt with following all the last rites rituals because the forest department believes they are as important as humans and deserve all the respect since the earth belongs to them too and not just to humans. The main aim is to protect and conserve the wildlife without causing any or much disturbance to their lives. The forest department takes great pride in doing a great job with the limited resources that are there.”
As Lady Bird Johnson, American first lady (1963-69) and a very famous environmentalist said “The environment is where we all meet, where we all have a mutual interest, it is one thing we all share.” Travelling to sanctuaries and reserves gives us, great insight of how the wildlife functions and what is the ground reality of conservation of biodiversity. People from Anglopheric countries, travel to India for research and excursions.
Although, these areas are protected and all the precautions are taken by the Forest department and concerned organizations, the cases of poaching and hunting of the wild animals and excavation of rare flora is very persistent and the main reason behind is money. Dr. Macpherson stated a very intriguing viewpoint to the world, “If you really think the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breadth while counting your money.” It makes us wonder how selfish human motives can lead to endangering the environment. Hence, it is our duty, to preserve rather than exploit. If we want the mankind to sustain for ages, we need to invest in environment from today. Then only the purpose of sustainable development, in a greater sense, can and will be achieved.
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