India is a developed country for biodiversity conservation
Although rapid economic development in India seems to attract attention, it may not be well known that the country is one of the world’s leading countries with biodiversity and is eager for its protection and development.
From 2011 to September 2019, India had executed a government-led biodiversity conservation project. According to a report from the United Nations (UN) who supported the project, the level of living in rural areas has been improved as well as conservation. What is the relationship between diversity conservation and enriching lives?
Let’s see an example of the Pinakota Village in Andhra Pradesh State, southeastern India. There is herb called Andrographis paniculata as one of the native plants of India. The herb is prescribed as a remedy in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian traditional medicine, and is used today in the treatment of various types of fever including malaria. The Pinakota Village collects and cultivates this rare herb and has been the target of the biodiversity conservation project.
For the Pinakota Village with a population of 732 people, this herb is one of the important sources of income. However, the villagers did not know how to manage these resources properly. Villagers were in a vulnerable position to business persons who come to the village to buy the herbs and who earn money from the brokerage fees by selling them to pharmaceutical companies. Excess demand could result in the harvest of all herbs, and in terms of resource conservation and the economy in the village, the situation was far from sustainable.
Therefore, Biodiversity Management Committees were established in Pinakota Village for the project. The members of the committees were those who treat the herbs for commercial and research purposes, such as researchers, private companies and governments, and they led the resource management. A certain amount of charges was collected from those who treated herbs for commercial purposes, and after the charges paid to the local fund, the committee has ensured that the benefits of the resources are distributed throughout the village, such as by distributing mango seedlings. By building a system for sharing these benefits, it has increased the motivation among villagers to protect these rare herbs.
The project has established such committees in a total of 315 locations in 10 of 29 states in India. The committee of Pinakota Village was chaired by Krupa Shanti, who was a leader of the village, and the other members were elected by democratic elections. The committee has identified those involved in resources, who had not been clear so far, and also has assessed the economic value of resources as commodities and made a database of it. As a result, it became possible to expect customers based on the market value that became clear, and new investments and investigations also have progressed.
UNEP biodiversity expert Max Zieren said that the project, which effectively utilized rare plants instead of blindly protecting them, and improved the lives of villagers, has been “greatly successful.” The measures in India is an example that countries around the world should use as a reference.