UNESCO Current Affairs

IOWave18: India to participate in multi-nation Indian Ocean-wide tsunami mock exercise

India along with 23 other nations will be participating in major Indian ocean-wide tsunami mock exercise known as IOWave18. The exercise is being organized by Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO. It will involve evacuation of thousands of people from coastal areas in over half a dozen states.

IOWave18

The purpose of the exercise is to increase tsunami preparedness, evaluate response capabilities in each state and improve coordination throughout the region. It is also aimed at enhancing tsunami preparedness at the community level. The exercise will simulate Indian Ocean countries being put in tsunami warning situation and require National Tsunami Warning Centre (NTWC) i.e. National and Local Disaster Management Offices (NDMO/LDMO) to implement and test their communication links and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) at all levels of warning chain. In this exercises, Hyderabad based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) will be nodal participating agency. It will be involved in evacuation of more than 1,25,000 people from coastal communities of Odisha, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Goa in this simulated tsunami warning situation.

Background

IOC, the only UN body specialized in ocean science and services had coordinated in setting up of Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS) in the aftermath of December 26, 2004 tsunami. Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC), based out of Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad. It is autonomous institution under Union Ministry of Earth Sciences. The state-of-the-art warning centre is operational since October 2007. It has all necessary computational and communication infrastructure for reception of real-time data from seismic and sea-level networks, tsunami modelling, as well as generation and dissemination of tsunami bulletins for entire Indian Ocean region (IOR).

Month: Categories: International Current Affairs 2018

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Khangchendzonga becomes 11th Biosphere Reserve from India under World Network of Biosphere Reserves

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in Himalayan state of Sikkim was included in UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), making it 11th Biosphere Reserve from India to achieve this recognition. The decision was taken at 30th Session of International Coordinating Council (ICC) of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO held in Palembang, Indonesia.

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve

It is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level. It includes range of ecolines, varying from sub-tropic to Arctic (tundra), as well as natural forests in different biomes, that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats.

Its core area is major transboundary Wildlife Protected Area. Its southern and central landscape which makes up 86% of core area is situated in Greater Himalayas. Its northern part of accounting for 14% of area is characterized by trans-Himalayan features.

The core zone of Khangchendzonga National Park already has been designated World Heritage Site in 2016 under ‘mixed’ category (first from India in this category). Many of mountains, peaks, lakes, caves, rocks, Stupas (shrines) and hot springs in this biosphere reserve function as pilgrimage sites.

The core zone of this biosphere reserve alone has over 150 glaciers and 73 glacial lakes, the prominent is famous 26-km-long Zemu glacier. It is also home to number of globally threatened fauna including musk deer, snow leopard, red panda and Himalayan Tahr and many ethnic communities including Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepalese.

Over 118 species of large number of medicinal plants are found in Dzongu Valley of this reserve which are of ethno-medical utility. The transition zone of reserve is targeted for eco-development activities, afforestation, plantation of medicinal herbs and soil conservation measures.

Biosphere reserves

Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which promote conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They serve in some ways as ‘living laboratories’ for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity. They are internationally recognized within framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme and nominated by national governments. There is World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) under MAB Programme. Within this network, exchanges of information, experience and personnel are facilitated. There are over 500 biosphere reserves in over 100 countries. India has total 18 Biosphere Reserves and with inclusion of Khangchendzonga number of internationally designated WNBR has become 11 and remaining 7 Biosphere Reserves are domestic Biosphere Reserves.

Man & Biosphere Programme

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme was launched in 1971 with aim of promoting interdisciplinary research, training, and communications in field of ecosystem conservation and rational use of natural resources. The programme is suited to respond to results of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and especially the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Selection of Biosphere Reserves

Primary Criteria: Site must contain effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation. It should also include additional land and water suitable for research and demonstration of sustainable methods of research and management. Its core area should be typical of biogeographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels in the ecosystem.

Secondary Criteria: Areas having rare and endangered species, Areas having diversity of soil and micro-climatic conditions and indigenous varieties of biota, Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment.

Month: Categories: India Current Affairs 2018

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