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:
- Genetic biodiversity
- Species biodiversity
- 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.
- Food chain: Preservation of biodiversity helps in maintaining the food
chain. When we deplete certain species of this food chain, the balance is
- 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
- Varieties of food: we get a range of variety of foods from different
kinds of plants and animals.
- Medicines: Medicines are one of the biggest boons of preservation of
biodiversity. It is obtained from various plants and animals.
- 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.
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
- 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
- Measures along with landscape scale approaches help to improve the
status of the environment.
- Proper technical, financial resources and capacity help to up scale the
- Capacity building helps to avoid and reduce the land degradation. This
in turn leads to informed restoration.
- Capacity development in these areas is much needed.
This can be
addressed at 3 levels:
- National level
- Provincial level
- Local level
Other ways to capacity building are through think tanks, consultancies
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.
Written by: Srabana Dutta
, a 4th year student of B.A. LL.B (H) from Amity University Kolkata