Environment Current Affairs - 2019
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An Indian Research team comprising of T V Ramachandra and S Bharath (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore); S Vinay and A. Shashishankar (Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belgaum, India) undertook a study to examine the possible impact of unplanned development on Ecology of Central Western Ghats.
The study focussed on River Kali that originates in Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka and joins the Arabian Sea. The river has six major dams, 325 species of flora, and 190 species of fauna and the river is as old as the Western Ghats.
Findings of the Study
The important findings highlighted in the study are:
- Unplanned developmental activities and land use patterns are reducing the evergreen forest cover and perennial streams in the central region of the Western Ghats in India.
- Researchers by studying the remote sensing data found that between the years 1973 and 2016, the forest cover has reduced from 85% to 55%.
- The land use pattern in the region has changed during 1980–2000 period due to developmental projects such as dams built on the river Kali, Kaiga nuclear plant and Dandeli paper mill which has led to large scale destruction of forests.
- As a result, the evergreen forests have shrunk by from 62% to 38.5% during 1980–2000 period and large water reservoirs have been constructed at the expense of forest cover.
- Even though River Kali has sufficient water supply and perennial streams in the Ghats and coastal areas, Regions that lie in plain lands with a higher degree of agriculture and cultivation have an intermittent and seasonal flow that has led to water scarcity for 4 to 9 months in a year.
- The study citing Perennial streams were found in regions that have greater than 70% of forest cover links ecology and hydrology with land use.
- Researchers propose that Forests with native species of vegetation play a pivotal role in enhancing the water retention capability of the catchment.
- The findings of the study show that Villagers in the vicinity of native forests earn Rs 1.54 lakh per acre per year compared to Rs 32,000 in villages with stream catchments experiencing deforestation. This confirms the vital role of native forests in sustaining water and people’s livelihood.
The study concludes that management practices adopted by engineers were contributing to the erosion of water retention capability in the river catchment with severe water scarcity. The study recommends government agencies to establish better management and conservation strategies to maintain forest cover for food and water security.
The 24th meeting of Conference of Parties (COP-24) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began at Katowice, Poland. COP-24 is expected to finalise guidelines for implementation of Paris Agreement adopted in 2016. Delegates from nearly 200 nations are participation in COP24. Indian delegation to this conference is led by Environment Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan.
India expects that COP-24 will be able to frame guidelines, which are pragmatic and gives due consideration to challenges and priorities of developing countries. India considers that outcome of COP-24 should be balanced, inclusive, and consistent with principles and provisions of Convention and its Paris Agreement.
India strongly supports objective of Paris Agreement to strengthen global response to threat of climate change by keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius from pre- industrial revolution period. India considers it important as it is linked to issue of poverty eradication.
India will highlight its concern for climate change and reaffirm its commitments to finalisation of Paris Agreement Work Programme. This agreement also focuses on developing countries need to adapt to adverse impacts of climate change, in manner that it does not put additional burden on them.
India will be setting up pavilion to create awareness about India’s positive climate actions in various sectors of economy. The theme of Pavilion is ‘One World One Sun One Grid’ as highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during first assembly of International Solar Alliance (ISA) in October 2018.
UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)
It is international environmental treaty negotiated at Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and entered into force in 1994. It has near universal membership as it has 196 countries and European Union (EU) as its members. It is parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which was ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas (GHGs) concentrations in atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
Conference of Parties (COP)
COP is the supreme decision-making body of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). All States that are Parties to UNFCCC are represented at COP. At COP, all parties review implementation of Convention and take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of Convention.