Creatures great and small

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May 22, 2014-

Biodiversity is a composite array of living organisms, their interaction with the abiotic components in nature and the habitats where they live. It includes the ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity. Biodiversity is a crucial component of the ecosystem. It is a source of food and medicine and therefore, the livelihoods of people are closely linked with it. Microscopic forms of life present in the soil provide and enhance soil fertility so that we can grow crops. Trees, bushes and grasslands provide habitats to different species of plants and animals. Biodiversity also plays an important role in climatic regulation and builds resiliency from the impacts of climate change.    

Nepal has a huge altitudinal of 70 metres to 8848 meters above sea level. This has endowed it with different climates providing suitable habitats for various types of plants and animals. Occupying only 0.1 percent of the world landmass, Nepal provides habitats for 3.2 percent of the world's plant species and 1.1 percent of the world's animal species. This richness in biodiversity has made Nepali a biodiversity hotspot.

Recently, there have been increases in global temperature, populations and urbanisation. The cumulative effect of these factors is putting great pressure on biodiversity. This has led to an increase in pollution and the loss and degradation of habitats. Illegal hunting and poaching of animals and un-scientific harvesting of wild varieties of plants are also major threats to biodiversity.  

These threats have become pronounced due to a lack of awareness on biodiversity. However, several initiatives from the government, NGOs and community groups and associations are emerging to conserve biodiversity. The Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) is revising its Nepal Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2014-2020) to address these very threats. Similarly, organisations like the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, International Union for Conservation of Nature, World Wildlife Fund-Nepal are also working for the conservation of biodiversity from the species to the landscape level. The Federation of Community Forestry User Groups Nepal is also working actively to conserve their forests and their biodiversity.

To enhance awareness and mainstream people from all sectors for a concerted effort at conservation, the world marks May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity. This year's theme is 'Island Biodiversity'. However, since Nepal is a landlocked country, it will be observing today on a different theme-'Mountain Biodiversity'.

Khanal is Programme Officer for Revision of Nepal Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan at the MoFSC

Published: 22-05-2014 09:49

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