Geography and You Summary (1 to 15 Feb 2019) Polar Biology (Download PDF)

Doorsteptutor material for CLAT is prepared by world's top subject experts: fully solved questions with step-by-step explanation- practice your way to success.

Polar Biology: The Antarctic and Arctic regions along the earth are inhabited by the organisms adapted to live in extreme environmental conditions. Microorganisms exhibit high level of adaptability and diversity which helps contribute significantly to the bio-geochemical processes in these environments. Most of the macro level life is transitory in nature except for the native animal species such as penguins of Antarctica and the polar bear, Arctic fox and reindeer of the Arctic. India has bi-hemispherical approach to Polar science and have permanent stations at Antarctic. Himadri-the Indian research base at Arctic have been established in 2008.

Polar Biology

Biodiversity Hotspots in India

  • Hotspots can be defined as the highly endemic rich biodiversity areas being threatened with human activities.
  • The Conservation International has designated four biodiversity rich areas in India.
  • The hotspots mandate greater conservation efforts at a local, national and global level.
  • Biodiversity hotspot was envisioned in 1988 by Norman Myers, a British biologist, when alluding to areas that featured exceptional concentrations of species with high levels of endemism and facing the threats of destruction (Myers, 1990) .
  • India՚s has four biodiversity hotspots namely the Himalaya, Indo-Burma, Sundalands and Western Ghats and Sri Lanka out of the 36 biodiversity hotspots around the world.
Biodiversity Hotspots in India
Biodiversity Hotspots Around the World
  • The Himalayan biodiversity hotspot extends over an arc of 3,000 km and includes the entire Indian Himalayan region and also the regions which fall in Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. The Indian Himalayas hotspot has eight endemic threatened species, four endemic threatened mammals and four endemic threatened amphibians.
The Indo-Burma Hotspot (IBH)
  • The Indo-Burma hotspot (IBH) encompasses more than 2 million sq km of tropical Asia and is the largest and one of the most geographically diverse biodiversity hotspots (CEPF, 2017) . This hotspot includes entire north-eastern India (except Assam and Andaman group of Islands) and Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and southern China and encompasses 2,373, 000 sq km of tropical Asia east of the Ganga-Brahmaputra lowlands.
The Sundalands Hotspots Consists
  • The Sundalands Hotspots consists of the largest number of species among all the other hotspots in India. The hotspot includes Nicobar group of Islands (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Philippines)
The Western Ghats Contains the Lowest Number of Plant
  • The Western Ghats contains the lowest number of plant species among all the four biodiversity hotspots in India. The Western Ghats stretches over a length of 1490 km from Tapi Valley in the north to Kanyakumari in south with an area of approximately 129,037 sq km. It occupies a width of 210 km in Tamil Nadu and narrows to as small as 48 km in Maharashtra.
Local Communities in Conservation Efforts Along with Building
  • There is a need to involve local communities in conservation efforts along with building national and global networks to support conservation of these highly exploited areas.

Coastal Regulation Zone

  • The coastal areas are facing constant encroachment and a rise in built-up area.
  • The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) was approved by the Union Government of India on December 28,2018 with a view to promote economic activities in coastal areas so that it may generate employment, better the lives of the local community and consequently enable further growth of the Indian economy.
  • The total length of India՚s coastline is 7,517 km with over 171 million people living in coastal districts constituting 14.2 per cent of nation՚s total population.
  • The major threats to coastal zone biodiversity are posed by heavy and polluting industries destructive fishing practices, mining, sewage, oil spills, over exploitation of ecosystems and more.
Coastal Regulation Zone
  • The new notification talks about promoting economic growth while respecting the conservation principles of coastal regions. It has unfrozen the floor space index (FSI) or floor area ratio (FAR) in urban coastal areas categorised as the CRZ-II. The new rule may provide affordable housing to poor communities in the locality, but it will also facilitate the entry of land sharks and the unscrupulous among the realty sector.
  • The procedure for CRZ clearances has been streamlined. Projects and activities located in the ecologically sensitive areas and area covered between low tide line and 12 nautical miles seaward (CRZ-IV) will need to seek clearance from the MoEF & CC.
Sea Change Coastal Zone Rules 2011 and 2018

Global Initiatives in Biodiversity Conservation

  • The UN Convention on Biological Diversity is an international legal instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
  • CBD was opened for signature on June 5,1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Earth Summit) .
  • India ratified the CBD on February 18,1994 and has been a party since May 19, the same year (CBD, 2019) .
  • The three primary objectives include the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.
  • To give significance to CBD India enacted the Biological Diversity Act in 2002.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has set up a Centre for Biodiversity Policy and Law (CEBPOL) housed in National Biodiversity Authority with technical collaboration from Norway with the aim to develop professional expertise on biodiversity related policies and laws.
Global Initiatives in Biodiversity Conservation

Nagoya Protocol

  • Nagoya Protocol aimed towards sharing the benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources in a fair and equitable manner.
  • It was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya (Japan) and entered into force on 12 October 2014.
  • This protocol was adopted by the 10th Conference of Parties (CoP-10) on CBD held in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010 and it entered into force on October 12,2014 - 90 days after the date of deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification (CBD, 2019) .
  • The three main objectives include the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.
  • Japan adopted Aichi Biodiversity Targets at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties on CBD, held during October 18 - 29,2010 in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, adopted a revised and updated strategic plan for biodiversity, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, for the 2011 - 2020 period (CBD, 2019) . There are five strategic goals:

Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across governments and societies.

Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.

Strategic Goal C: Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.

Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building.

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

  • The Cartagena Protocol was adopted on January 29,2000 after a long
  • negotiation and entered into force on September 11,2003 (CBD, 2019) . Currently India is a party to the Protocol.
  • It deals with the issue of genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) .
  • The aim is to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity also taking into account risks to human health.


  • To divert more finance from all possible sources towards global and national biodiversity goals, as highlighted during the 2010 COP 10 in Nagoya (UNDP, 2019) , the Biodiversity Finance Initiative was launched by United Nations Development Programme and the European Commission in response to the urgent global needs.
  • It is a practice of raising and managing capital and using financial incentives to support sustainable biodiversity management.
  • It includes private and public financial resources used to conserve biodiversity, investments in commercial activities that produce positive biodiversity outcomes and the value of the transactions in biodiversity-related markets such as habitat banking. India joined the UNDP managed global initiative in 2015.

Biosphere Reserves

  • Biosphere Reserve is an area of complex terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems.
  • The idea of biosphere reserves was initiated by UNESCO in 1973 - 74 under its ‘Man and Biosphere’ (MAB) Programme (UNESCO, 2019) .
  • The objectives include conserving the diversity and integrity of plants and animals within the natural ecosystems, safeguarding genetic diversity of species on which their continuing evolution depends, providing facilities for education and training, provide areas for multi-faceted research and monitoring and ensure sustainable use of resources through most appropriate technology for improvement of economic well-being of the local people.
  • 11 biosphere reserves in India included in the World Network of Biosphere
  • Reserves of UNESCO are Nilgiri (2000) , Gulf of Mannar (2001) , Sunderban (2001) , Nanda Devi (2004) , Nokrek (2009) , Pachmarhi (2009) , Simplipal (2009) , Achanakmar-Amarkantak (2012) , Great Nicobar (2013) , Agasthyamala (2016) and Khangchendzonga (2018) .
Biosphere Reserves

Blue Flag Certification

  • Blue Flag Certification is the voluntary eco-labels awarded to beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators.
  • This certificate is awarded by the Blue Flag Programme which is operated under the auspices of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) headquartered at Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • It is designed to raise environmental awareness and increase good environmental practices among tourists, local populations and beach and marina management staff.
  • This programme was also designed to work with the national, regional and local legislation of each country, thereby assuring that the legislation is being followed.
  • At present there are 4558 worldwide Blue Flag beaches, marinas and boats in 44 countries (Blueflag, 2019) .
Blue Flag Certification
  • In India Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) under the MoEF & CC has embarked upon a programme for Blue Flag certification of one Blue Flag beach in each of the 13 coastal states/Union Territories under the World Bank assisted Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) .
  • SICOM is an integrated coastal management scheme (BEAMS) .
  • The main objective of the BEAMS programme is to reduce pollutants, promote sustainable development and strive for high standards in the areas of environmental management, environmental education,

    bathing water quality, safety and security services scientifically.

  • A ‘clean’ beach is the primary indicator of coastal environmental quality, management and economic health of beach tourism.
  • A team of SICOM carried out extensive field research to assess gaps in Blue Flag requirements in consultation with local authorities and stakeholders in the 13 nominated pilot beaches which include-Shivrajpur (Dwarka) Gujarat; Ghoghola (Diu) Daman & Diu; Bhogwe (Sindhudurg) Maharashtra; Miramar (Panjim) Goa; Padubidri (Udupi) Karnataka; Kappad (Kozhikode) Kerala; Emerald (Karaikal) Puducherry; Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu; Rushikonda (Visakhapatnam) , Andhra Pradesh; Chandrabhaga (Puri) Odisha; Tajpur (Purba Medinipur) West Bengal; Radhanagar (Havelock) Andaman & Nicobar; and, Bangaram, Lakshadweep.

Forest Dwellers Vs Forest Rights

  • The claim of the forest rights or forest land Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, were rejected as per the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) (Rajagopal, 2019) .
  • This act was passed with an aim to recognise forest and land rights to the individuals as well as communities living in forests for many generations.
  • FRA mentions two categories of people who can claim rights on forest land-FDST and OTFD.
  • The act defines FDST (forest dwelling schedule tribes) as the members of schedule tribes who primarily reside in and who depend on forests or forest land for their livelihood and OTFD (other traditional forest dwellers) as any member or community who has for at least three generations (75 years) prior to December 13,2005 primarily resided in and been dependent on the forest or forest land for their livelihood (ibid) .
  • The Forest Right Act grant and review any individual and community claim over forest land. The grams sabha, a village assembly which consists of all adult members of a village has been empowered to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of individual and community claims.
  • The claim is then forwarded to sub-divisional level committee (SDLC) -the second tier and then to the district level committee (DLC) chaired by the district magistrate which holds the final authority in the matter.
  • Two safeguards have been provided to the applicant-the first is that an aggrieved person is granted 60 days time to file a review petition against the rejection of claims.
  • The second safeguard is that no petition of an aggrieved person can be disposed off unless he/she is granted an opportunity to present his case.

Forest Rights Act, 2006

  • The FRA 2006 recognises and vests forest rights and occupation of forest land in forest dwelling schedule tribes (FDST) and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFD) who have been residing in such forests for generations (MoTA, 2014) .
  • The Act also talks about the conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecological balance and responsibilities for sustainable use in addition to providing a framework for the recognition of such rights.
  • The act provides rights to the tiltle holders, gram sabhas and village level institutions to protect the wildlife, forest and biodiversity along with access to community forest resources thereby managing nd protecting the same.
Forest Rights Act, 2006

Know the MCQs

  • Satawari is a plant used in traditional Indian medicine and is found commonly in the Himalayas. For example Don Forest is in East Champaran (Bihar) and this forest contains Satawari plant.
  • Indian Ipedac (Tylophora indica) plant is used to treat wide variety ailments. Sarpagandha plant (Rauwolfia serpentine) is used to treat high blood pressure.
  • Krill belongs to the family of crustaceans which includes crabs, lobsters and shrimp.
  • Jaunsar Tribal belong to Uttarkhand depend on forest for their livelihood and their claims regarding the lands were rejected recently.
  • There are total 36 biodiversity hotspots around the world out pf which, India has four namely the Himalaya, Indo-Burma, Sundalands and Western Ghats.

- Published/Last Modified on: December 25, 2019

Science/Technology, Policy/Governance, Health, Geography

Developed by: