Biodiversity of India 

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India has ‘abundant’ biodiversity in the form of forests, wetlands and marine areas. The country comprises habitats including tropical rainforest, alpine vegetation, temperate forests and coastal wetlands. Our nation has fertile river plains, high plateaus and huge rivers including the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus. India is rich in biodiversity, hence it displays great diversity in its climate, topography and geology.

India has a wide range of flora and fauna. Several flowering plants have their origin in India. Over hundreds of species of crop plants have also emerged in our country.India is ranked 8th in global biodiversity. It is home to an estimated 1,212 bird species, 446 amphibian species, 2,601 fish species, 440 mammal species, and over 45,000 vascular plant species. 

Features of Indian Biodiversity

Biodiversity Hotspots

Biodiversity hotspost

A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region which has a significant reservoir of biodiversity and is under constant threat. Norman Myers developed the concept of hot spots of biodiversity in the year 1988.

Criteria for identifying hotspots:

  1. Total number of endemic species
  2. Extent of threat

There are around 25 hotspots identified across the globe. Few important one’s are Brazil’s cerrado, Central Chile, Madagascar, coastal forests of Tanzania/ Kenya, Mediterranean basin, Caucasus and South Central China.

Around 20 percent of the human population lives in hot spot areas. India has two biodiversity hotspots.

a. Eastern Himalaya Hotspot:

Ranges from North Eastern India to the country of Bhutan. Contains several endemic plants. Special features include temperate forests which are found at a height of 1780-3500 meters. Plenty of deep valleys are also present in the hot spot.

b. Western Ghat Hotspot:

Comprises evergreen forests which lie at a height of about 500-1500 meters in states such as Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala. Agasthyamalai hills and Silent Valley are among the main centers of biodiversity.

Biogeographical Regions of India

Biodiversity region

The study of origin, environmental relationship and distribution of plants and animals is called biogeography.

Geographical factors and the extent of biodiversity are interdependent. For example, larger the size of an area, greater the number of species found in it. Latitude, elevation, and precipitation are the other decisive geographical variables.

Higher diversities are found at lower heights. On the other hand, very poor diversity is often found at higher altitudes. India largely has a mixture of wild and cultivated habitats.

Biocentre of Origin of Cultivated Plants

India is among the 12 centers of origin of cultivated plants. Our country is considered as the center of origin of about 30,000 – 50,000 varieties of rice, sugarcane, turmeric, ginger, mango etc ..

World Heritage Sites

India has 40 natural world heritage sites (32 cultural, 7 natural, and one mixed) and 75 Ramsar wetlands. They are major tourist attractions.

Other features

  • India has 89 national parks, 122 botanical gardens, 500 wildlife sanctuaries, 27 tiger reserves, 200 zoological parks and 13 biosphere reserves.
  • Approximately 30 percent of the world’s recorded flora is endemic to India.
  • Our country is home to over 81,000 species of fauna and 47,000 species of flora. A major chunk of them are found on the Western Ghats, which is one of the biodiversity hotspots in India.
  • Overall, India has 10 biogeographic zones and 26 biotic provinces.

Biodiversity Conservation Efforts (India)

India has various biogeographical provinces ranging from the cold deserts of Spiti to the lush green tropical rain forests of Kerala. We have several fresh-water resources including the Wular and Kolleru lakes and the rich coastline and Coral reefs of the Deccan.

Biodiversity conservation methods

  1. The Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL) was set up in 1952.

Major functions of IBWL include:

  • Sponsoring the setting up of national parks, sanctuaries and gardens.
  • Finding means for protecting wildlife.
  • Evoke public interest in wildlife.

The first week of October is observed as ‘wildlife week’ every year for raising awareness on the importance of conserving wildlife.

The Wildlife (Protection) Act was implemented in 1972.

  • Hunting and trade of animal products was strictly prohibited/regulated.
  • Complete ban was imposed on trade of rare and endangered species.
  • Decision was taken to set up national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the country.

The National Wildlife Action Plan was formulated in 1983-84.

Creation of National parks and Biosphere reserves was initiated in 1986.

Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) was established in 1983. The Wildlife Preservation Society of India (WPSI) was set up in 1958 with its headquarters at Dehradun. These acted as a major boost for the biodiversity conservation efforts in the country.

The Botanical Survey of India was established. There are several wildlife protection programmes associated with it.

Wildlife forensic scientists work round-the-clock for curbing rising crimes against wildlife.

The National Bureau of Plant, Animal and Fish Genetic Resources conducts several programmes for collecting and conserving germplasm of plants and animals.

People and Government’s efforts in Biodiversity Conservation

Our Earth is our Responsibility

Following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was established in 1992- 93. The Government of India is among the signatories of the convention.  

The objects of CBD are:

(i) Conserving biodiversity.

(ii) Making use of biodiversity and its components in a sustainable manner.

(iii) Ensuring equitable distribution of benefits of biodiversity.

To protect our country’s biodiversity, the Government of India passed the Biodiversity Bill in December 2003. The bill will help in checking biopiracy.

For ensuring legitimate use of our biodiversity and equitable sharing of its benefits, a Biodiversity Board has been set up with its head office at Chennai.

For example, in 1996, Pattuvam Village in Kerala had declared com­plete control over ‘biodiversity’ in their area. They even created a Forum of Protection of People’s Biodiversity and prepared a list of the total number of species found in their area.

The Foundation of Revitalization of Local Health Tradition and the Green Foundation situated in Bangalore, the Center for Indian Knowledge System located in Chennai and Beej Bachao Andolan in Tehri Garhwal are the few other organizations working for conservation of biodiversity.

Over the years, women have contributed significantly in preserving our ‘biodiversity’ through concrete efforts and campaigns.


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