The World has enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed

-Mahatma Gandhi

 

The story of India’s national parks started in 1936 with the establishment of the Hailey National Park, now called the Corbett National Park, in Uttaranchal. Since then there has been no looking back.

There are 668 Protected Areas including 102 National Parks, 515 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 47 Conservation Reserves and 4 Community Reserves covering a total of 1,61,221.57 km2 of geographical area which is approximately 4.90% of the country. In addition there are 47 Tiger Reserves, 18 Biosphere Reserves, 25 Elephant Reserves, 5 Natural World Heritage sites and 25 Ramsar Wetland sites in India.

These protected hotspots of India’s biodiversity are governed by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF). It is the nodal agency in the Central Government for overseeing the implementation of India’s environment and forest policies and programmes relating to conservation of the country’s natural resources including lakes and rivers, its biodiversity, forests and wildlife, ensuring the welfare of animals and prevention and abatement of pollution. Botanical Survey of India (BSI) is the apex research organization under the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Govt. of India for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of the country through Survey, Documentation and Conservation. These havens were set up with the following objectives in mind –

  • The broad objectives of the Ministry are: Conservation and survey of flora, fauna, forests and wildlife
  • Prevention and control of pollution
  • Afforestation and regeneration of degraded areas,
  • Protection of environment
  • Ensuring the welfare of animals.

This is done through regular assessment and correction of the forest cover. Forest Survey of India (FSI), an organization under the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Govt. of India is engaged in the assessment in this activity. A host of activities are propelled:

  • Forest Cover Assessment every two years using remote sensing technology.
  • Inventory of forest and trees outside forests (Rural & Urban areas).
  • Data processing.
  • Methodology design for carrying out various types of survey & inventory.
  • Training and extension.
  • Projects and consultancies

The sections 18 to 34 of the Indian Constitution deal with Sanctuaries, section 35 deals with National Parks and section 38 empowers the Central Government to declare areas as Sanctuaries or National Parks.

How is a National Park different from a Wildlife Sanctuary?

Objectives Features Zones
National Park Conservation of species of a habitat with minimal or very low intensity of human activity. No human resides in the Park, other than a public servant on duty and permitted persons by the Chief Wild Life Warden. Core
Sanctuaries Conservation of species and habitats by manipulative management. No human resides in the Sanctuary, other than a public servant on duty and permitted persons by the Chief Wild Life Warden. Core, Buffer and Restoration
Biosphere Reserves Conservation of the natural resources and for the improvement of the relationship between man and the environment therein. Both natural and human-influenced ecosystems; substantial human settlements (rural). Core, Buffer, Restoration and Cultural

 

What is a Tiger Reserve?

These come under the purview of Project Tiger, which was launched by the Government of India in the year 1973 to save the endangered species of tiger in the country.  Beginning with nine reserves in 1973-74 the number has grown up to twenty eight in 1999-2000.  These project tiger areas cover a total area of 35,747.08 sq km, which is 1.09% of the total geographical area in the country