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Preserving Biodiversity: A Sustainable Way Of Life

What is biodiversity?

Prof David Macdonald, at Oxford University once said Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity. The boundless variety of life on Earth that refers to every living organism which includes plants, animals, bacteria, humans is known as biodiversity. It makes reference to all of the species in a region or ecosystem. There are approximately 8.7 million species in existence, out of which 1.2 million has been identified. This makes the remaining 7.5 million as completely identified even today.

Types of Biodiversity

There are three types of biodiversity:

  1. Genetic biodiversity
  2. Species biodiversity
  3. Ecosystem or habitat biodiversity.

Importance of biodiversity

Preserving biodiversity is important as it maintains the balance of the living organisms along with the environment and ecosystem.
  1. Food chain: Preservation of biodiversity helps in maintaining the food chain. When we deplete certain species of this food chain, the balance is disrupted.
  2. Aesthetic value: The variety of the species enhances the beauty of the nature. Its because of the biodiversity that the barren lands are less to be found.
  3. Varieties of food: we get a range of variety of foods from different kinds of plants and animals.
  4. Medicines: Medicines are one of the biggest boons of preservation of biodiversity. It is obtained from various plants and animals.
  5. Productive values: We use different products that are obtained from plants and animals. These are cotton, rubber, paper, leather, teeth.

Threats to biodiversity

There are several threats to biodiversity, such as pollution, the increasing human population, loss of habitat and fragmentation of habitat, climate change, resources used in an unsustainable manner, invasive species and overconsumption of resources. These result in irreplaceable damage of biodiversity in the Earth.

Impact of IPR on biodiversity
There are various impacts of IPRs on biodiversity. They are:
Biopiracy- When different MNCs or other organizations without any proper authorization from the people concerned or from the respective countries without compensating them use the bio resources it is known as biopiracy. It is a way of exploiting the naturally occurred genetic/biochemical material. The traditional knowledge that is passed from generations to generations are often not documented, these later results in biopiracy.

Examples of biopiracy- Basmati, neem, turmeric

PBR or Plant breeder's rights- It is a system in which the owner of the plant varieties are allowed to prohibit certain unauthorized uses of the variety. These rights are only applicable to plants. This helps in protecting the newer varieties of plants.

CBD has identified the relationship between IPR and biodiversity in Article 15, Article 16 and Article 19. Article 16(5) of CBD states that The Contracting Parties, recognizing that patents and other intellectual property rights may have an influence on the implementation of this Convention, shall cooperate in this regard subject to national legislation and international law in order to ensure that such rights are supportive of and do not run counter to its objectives. Other than these the objectives of CBD i.e- conservation, sustainable use and benefit sharing and Article 1 talks about the complex relation between the two.

Legislations

There are different legislations that help to protect the biodiversity and the people. TRIPs (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) and CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) are one of many such laws that help to protect the biodiversity. India has also passed Indian Patent (Second Amendment) Act, 2002 and the Biological Diversity Bill, 2002 respectively to comply with TRIPS and CBD. The Indian Patent (Second Amendment) Act, 2002 has extended the term of patent to twenty years for all its product patents and process patents. India has also joined UPOV (1978 Act) which will now enable the plant breeders to receive of PBR certifications. India also has passed Plant Protection Bill earlier which helps to develop the sui generis system.

Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity

The loss of biodiversity is now referred to as the ˜Earth's sixth mass extinction' by the scientists. It is because we are losing our biodiversity 1000 times more than its natural rate. This instills a fear among us as it hampers the ecosystem. These are irreversible damages done to the environment and ecosystem; it poses serious threat to both health and wellbeing.
Certain landscapes are used technically to conserve the biodiversity with both in-situ and ex-situ conservation.

But due to limited resources, relevant legislations these areas are not functioning as effectively as they were originally intended. Conserving biodiversity does not only include its physical environment but also economic, social systems which are attached to biodiversity and ecosystem services. So these protected areas need to be maintained with various features so that it can effectively contribute to secure the biodiversity.
  1. We all know how much the growth in such protected areas help the biodiversity there, but the sustainable use and the growth outside such areas also contribute a lot to the environment
  2. Measures along with landscape scale approaches help to improve the status of the environment.
  3. Proper technical, financial resources and capacity help to up scale the innovative solutions.
  4. Capacity building helps to avoid and reduce the land degradation. This in turn leads to informed restoration.
  5. Capacity development in these areas is much needed.

    This can be addressed at 3 levels:
    • National level
    • Provincial level
    • Local level
  6. Other ways to capacity building are through think tanks, consultancies and academia.
Conclusion
Sir David Attenborough who is an eminent naturalist and also a television presenter said "The inter-dependence of species evolved over millions of years and underpins the complex diversity of life which exists on this planet." There are several species about which we are completely unaware.

It's our duty to protect and preserve the biodiversity so that these species are unaffected. The humans are the only living beings upon which the fate of such creatures are lying. Overpopulation has resulted in overconsumption which in turn has led to the depletion of wildlife.

The animals are constantly battling against lack of space, forest, food. It's in turn results in the depletion of such animal species. While using the natural resources we should keep in mind whether such usage are done in a sustainable way.

Maybe it's still not too late to save the earth. But for that one needs to use the natural resources sustainable, opt for minimalistic way of living and wisely protecting the environment around us, starting immediately.

References:
  • https://www.amnh.org/research/center-for-biodiversity-conservation/what-is-biodiversity
  • https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/12/what-is-biodiversity-and-why-does-it-matter-to-us
  • https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/biodiversity/
  • https://www.safeworldhse.com/2020/04/biodiversity-types-importance-loss-conservation.html
  • https://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/biodiversity/8-main-values-of-biodiversity-explained/30156
  • http://eprints.rclis.org/7905/1/Impact_of_IPR_on_Biodiversity.pdf
  • https://www.vedantu.com/biology/biopiracy
  • http://www.iphandbook.org/handbook/ch04/p05/
  • https://www.iprsonline.org/ictsd/docs/IPR_biodiv_2003.pdf
  • https://en.unesco.org/themes/biodiversity/conservation
  • http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/biodvy4.htm
Written by: Srabana Dutta, a 4th year student of B.A. LL.B (H) from Amity University Kolkata

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