The recently constituted Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board has started the process of forming district-level committees that will list out issues pertaining to the environment and work towards its conservation.
Tasked with working towards the conservation of nature, the committees will also identify forested areas which are unique and have not been listed and document the details of their flora and fauna. The committees will formulate a participatory process involving local villagers, who will contribute their ideas and work towards wildlife preservation.
“In a recent meeting, we asked all district collectors in various parts of the state to form a committee in their respective jurisdictions which will have to work towards nature conservation, especially in places like Kaas plateau, heritage sites, nesting colonies, wetlands and villages like Kalombi and Salengi in Kolahapur and other places in Melghat, which have rich biodiversity but are yet to be recognised,” board member Kishore Rithe said.
As the state had only framed rules to protect flora and fauna in 2008 after the National Bio-diversity Board (NBB) under the Biodiversity Act, 2002, had made it mandatory for all states to constitute biodiversity boards for the purpose of conservation, it formed a board last May with 8-10 members to ensure that the act is implemented in the state.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Dr SK Khetarpal said that besides preserving biodiversity, the objective of the board would also be the implementation of measures to mitigate man-animal conflict in wildlife reserves and sanctuaries.
“Studies have revealed numerous problems which have increased man-animal conflict. The tiger population is threatened, while leopards are finding habitats outside the forests and entering villages,” Khetarpal said. “Under the board, the PCCF is running its eco-development programme in 90 villages in the buffer zone to win villagers’ cooperation. We’ll take up grazing of grasslands and create waterholes for animals in buffer zones.”
The board will also establish buffer management authorities and set up village eco-development committees by employing villagers. “Villagers should get a stake in preserving wildlife and that could be an income source,” Khetarpal said.