TODAY -

Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystem
- International Day for Biological Diversity -

N Munal Meitei *



May 22 is observed as International Day for Biological Diversity with this year’s (2024) theme, ‘Building a shared future for all life’. This theme advocates the harmony between mankind and nature to reduce biodiversity loss. One thing is certain: despite all our technological advances we are completely dependent on a healthy and vibrant ecosystem for our food, water, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy etc.

Biodiversity is the variety of all living beings on earth. It is the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes, ecosystem and the biome of the entire planet. Biodiversity is a common good, an invaluable legacy formed over a course of millions of years and a capital to transmit to future generations.

Biodiversity is the foundation of life. It coins the economies like agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, among others. By halting biodiversity loss, we are investing for pristineness in people, their future and well-being.

Biodiversity is the living fabric which underpins human wellbeing in the present and future and its rapid decline threatens nature and people alike. Biodiversity is like a large tank, from which humans can draw food, pharmaceutical products and even livelihood. Biodiversity is the insurance for lives on the Planet.

Biodiversity is the measure of the health of eco- system. Preserving bio-diversity and human develop- ment must go hand-in-hand. Once there was only a choice between development and biodiversity but now we realize that we cannot separate these two worlds any longer.

Biodiversity loss jeopardizes nature’s vital contributions to humanity, endangering economies, livelihoods, food security, cultural diversity and quality of life and constitutes a major threat to global peace and security.

Biological diversity resources are the pillars upon which we build our civilizations. Over 82% of the human diet is provided by plants. Fish provide 20% of animal protein to about 3 billion people. As many as 80% of people in developing countries rely on traditional plant based medicines for basic healthcare. But loss of biodiversity has given throes to living beings.

Biodiversity provides the building blocks for livelihood. The loss of genes and individuals threaten survival of species. In spite of the importance given to biodiversity conservation, genetic erosion continues globally. Twelve per cent of birds, 21% of mammals, 30% of amphibians, 27% of coral reefs and 35% of conifers and cycads face extinction. According to IUCN, over 47677 species may soon disappear.

Climate change, pollution, habitat loss, over- exploitation, invasive species and urbanization are the main drivers of biodiversity loss. Over 90% of bio-diversity loss is due to over exploitation and habitat loss thereby underlining the three Rs — reuse, reduce and recycle.

Forest has an important role in conservation of biodiversity. But global loss of forests is about the size of 3 football grounds per minute and 15 billion trees cut every year. A fully grown up tree can produce oxygen for 10 persons and can store 1 ton of CO2. Nearly 9% of all known tree species are already at risk of extinction.

Woody tree species are enable to shift pole ward with changing climatic conditions. Hence, the conservation of forests is vital to protect biodiversity and mitigate climate change. On other hand, forests are again threatened by the impacts of climate change.

The rate of biodiversity loss is also about one species per 20 minutes and about 100 species in a day from the earth. A species once lost is lost forever and when a species is lost, it affects another species and the whole ecosystem.

To halt this decline, it’s vital to transform people’s role, action and relationship with biodiversity. In fact, research confirms that when indigenous communities control the land, biodive-rsity flourishes and the need arises to incorporate the indigenous wisdom on envi- ronment into global policy making.

India is a mega-diverse house for around 10% of world’s wildlife. The country with 2.4% of the global area, accounts for 7.8% of all recorded biodiversity. There are about 45000 species of plants, which is about 7% of global total of which 33% are endemic. There are 15000 flowering plants, which is 6% of world’s total.

We also have 136 species of bamboo. There are also 91000 animal species, representing about 6.5% of world’s fauna. These include 60000 insect species, 2456 fish species, 500 molluscs, 1230 bird species, 372 mammals, over 440 reptiles and 200 amphibians with largest con- centration in Western Ghats. Livestock diversity of 400 breeds of sheep, 27 of cattle and 22 of goats are found in India.

North East India with occurrence of over 1200 species of plants and animals fascinates us. These species comprising of 52 edible fruits and 50 medicinal plants, 75 each of woody plants, 55 orchids, 50 species of soil and airborne fungi, 5 rotifers, 169 nematode worms, nearly 500 insects including 65 species of silk moths, 25 each of edible insects, lady bird beetles, aphids, parasi-toids and 150 each of thrips and butterflies besides 120 species of fishes including 29 in ornamental forms. It is home of 17 crop species that represent 47% of the crop diversity available in the country.

Manipur with two world’s hotspots is known for its richness in bio-diversity including endemic flora and fauna. Our biodiversity includes about 4000 angiosperms, 1200 medicinal plants, 34 species of edible fungi, about 500 orchids, 55 species of bamboo, 695 birds, 160 fish species, 55 migratory birds and multitude of butterflies, insects. There are 145 medicinal plants that the healers use for treating 59 ailments.

Manipur is again home of 6 species of hornbill, 4 species of pheasants including Nongin and the migratory Amur Falcon. The State has Protected Area Network over about 3.7% of the geographical area. Manipur Zoological garden houses about 50 endemic, endangered or rare species. In State orchida-rium, about 343 orchid species are conserved. But now, whole of our rich biodiversity is at brink.

Biodiversity is a country’s sovereign property of its people. Now, human needs to forge a peace pact with nature. Therefore for the sake of mother earth and the future generation, let’s save our biodiversity today because tomorrow may be too late.


* N Munal Meitei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at nmunall(AT)yahoo(DOT)in
This article was webcasted on May 27 2024.



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