Environment and Biodiversity Current Affairs in October 2020

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Current Affairs - Environment and Biodiversity 31st October

Kabartal Wetland (Bihar)

Recently, has been designated as Ramsar sites making it a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ making it the 39th Ramsar site in  India 39, the highest in South Asia.

Key Point:

    • Also known as Kanwar Jheel
    • It is spread over an area of  2,620 hectares of the Indo-Gangetic plains in the Begusarai district of Bihar.
    • Acts as an important flood buffer for the region
    • It also provides livelihood opportunities to local communities.
    • Significant biodiversity is present, of both flora and fauna, and important fish biodiversity site.
    • It is a vital stopover site along the Central Asian Flayawayfor over  58 migratory waterbirds using it to rest and refuel.
    • Five critically endangered species inhabit the site, them being: three vultures– the red-headed vulture, white-rumped vulture, and Indian vulture, and two waterbirds, the sociable lapwing, and Baer’s pochard.
    • This Site faces major threats from water management activities such as drainage, water abstraction, damming, and canalization

 

Current Affairs - Environment and Biodiversity 30th October

New Biosphere Reserves added to Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program

The International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB-ICC), on 29th October 2020, included 3 new reserves from India and Maldives to the list of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.  

The Biosphere Reserves added are:

  • Panna in India
  •  Fuvahmulah Atoll, Maldives, and 
  • Addu Atoll in the Maldives

Key Points:

  • This is the 12th entry for India, and the second and third for the Maldives after Baa atoll. 

Panna Biosphere Reserve (India)

  • Located in Madhya Pradesh, Panna 
  • Characterized by forests and marshy vegetation, with an abundance of rare medicinal plants as well as other non-timber forestry products, such as Kattha, gum, and resins. 
  • It is a critical tiger habitat area and has the Panna Tiger Reserve
  • It hosts the  World Heritage site of the Khajuraho Group of Monuments.
  •  The area has undergone substantial ecosystem restoration in the buffer zone. 
  • Agriculture is the main source of income, along with horticulture, forestry, and cultural and eco-tourism.

Fuvahmulah Biosphere Reserve (Maldives)

  • A large island in the southern part of the Maldives
  • It encompasses an entire atoll ecosystem, including the most diverse of coral ecosystems in the country with healthy habitats and unique coral sand beach formations. 
  • The surface of the island is in the form of a very shallow bowl with two mangroves and wetlands, locally known as Kilhi at medial 
  • These Kilhis have influenced the lifestyle of the island’s inhabitants, 
  • They make their living mostly with tourism, small-scale fishing, and agriculture.

Addu Atoll Biosphere Reserve (Maldives)

  • The southernmost atoll of the Maldives, 
  • It comprises a total of 30 islands, 17 of which are uninhabited. 
  • It is one of the most diverse coral reef ecosystems in the Maldives including lagoons, reef passes, seagrass beds, sandbanks, coral islands, lush tropical vegetation, mangroves, wetlands, brackish lakes locally known as kilhis, agricultural land, and residential areas.
  • Most of the inhabitants make a living from fisheries and tourism related to underwater sports.
  •  The Maldivian atolls are threatened by rising sea levels due to climate change and by an increasing number of invasive alien species, both of which require immediate action at the regional and global levels.

Current Affairs - Environment and Biodiversity 29th October

National Action Plan for Vulture Conservation, 2020-2025

The plan was approved on the 5th of October 2020 by the National Board for Wildlife

Looked over by:

The Drugs Controller General of India

 Key Point:

  • The suggestion has been that new veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be tested on vultures before they are released commercially.
  • If the drug is found to be toxic to vultures, the new plan automatically removes veterinary use of a drug 
  • Every state should host at least one vulture safe zone to conserve the remaining population of vultures in the state. 
  • These centers will facilitate the conservation and breeding of vultures.
  • A coordinated Nation-wide vulture census is to be conducted on a regular interval by the Forest Department, Bombay Natural History Society, non-profit organizations, Research Institute.
  • Establishment of four rescue center-Pinjore, Bhopal, Guwahati, and Hyderabad.
  • The special focus will be on Gyps species 

Additional Information:

National Board of Wild Life:

  • Constituted under section 5 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972
  • It serves as an apex body to review all wildlife-related projects.

 

Current Affairs - Environment and Biodiversity 24th October

Echinops sahyadricus.

26th October 2020

Common name: Sahyadri globe thistle

Location: Rajgad Fort area, Pune Maharashtra, located in the Sahyadri hills in the northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra.

Discovered by: 

       -  Mumbai-based botanist Sushant More from Sathaye College, and

       -  Fabio Conti from the University of Camerino, Italy.

Highlights:

- Genus:  Echinops (spiny thistle)

- Characteristics:  erect branched flowering herb with stout stem 

- Endemic to western Maharashtra and found only on a few open hilltops in the northern Western Ghats on from 800 to 1400 metres (m) above sea level

- Published on 23 October 2020 in Nordic Journal of Botany.

- Distribution: from Salher in Nashik District,in the north and south of Kolhapur district.

- Growing season:the monsoon – between June and September

- Flowers bloom in November. 

- The fruiting occurs in December.

- Unique due to the size of its composite inflorescence as a large number of small flowers clustered together measuring up to 9 centimetres (cm) in diameter

- Threats: infrastructure projects such as road widening and construction activities along these forts 

- There exist about 130 known species of Echinops in the world, of which five species are found in the country, two of which is found in Maharashtra alone.

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 23rd Oct

 

The International Snow Leopard Day

Celebrated on October 23 every year. Also called the World Snow Leopard Day.

Background:

- The first International Snow Leopard Day was celebrated in 2014.

- October 23 rd was declared as the International Snow Leopard Day at the first Global Snow Leopard Forum which was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

- 2015 was proclaimed as the International Year of Snow Leopard.

Highlights:

- celebrated to create awareness about conservation and preservation of Snow Leopards.

Additional Information:

Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Programme

- Initiated by Kyrgyzstan Government.

- India is a signatory of the program.

- The other countries that have signed the program: China, Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

- All these countries are in the Snow Leopard ranges.

- These countries are signatory to the Bishkek Declaration as well.

The program secures 20 snow leopard landscapes under the “Secure 20 by 2020” initiative.

Snow Leopards in India

In Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and eastern

Himalayan areas.

 Snow Leopard Survey in India

- The first Snow Leopard Survey in India was conducted in 2019.

- India hosts 10% of the global snow leopard population.

 Conservation

- The IUCN Status: vulnerable

- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I

- CITES: in Appendix I.

 Project Snow Leopard

- It was launched in 2009.

- in Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 22nd  October

 

Asan Conservation Reserve becomes Uttarakhand’s 1st Ramsar site

Declared on October 22, 2020

Declared by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. 

Location on the banks of Yamuna River near Dehradun district in the Garhwal region of the Himalayan state.

 Significance:

The wetland now becomes ‘Wetland of International Importance’,

 Highlight:

- Asan Conservation Reserve cleared 5/9 criteria necessary to be declared as a Ramsar site

- It cleared the category of species and ecological communities, water-birds, and fish.

- The number of Ramsar sites in India now goes up to 38, the highest in South Asia.

 

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 21st   October

  

Sand Dune Park in Goa 

Proposed by the Goa state biodiversity board 

Funded by the World Bank 

Amount Sanctioned :

Rs. 3 crore 

Highlight:

- India’s first sand dune parks and interpretation centers would be set up in Goa.

- Morjim and Galibaga are among the beaches getting the sand dune park. 

Sand Dune Park

- They will have interpretation centers to create awareness among the locals and tourists on the importance of the sand dune ecosystem.

- Park will have bridges made out of nature-friendly material to reduce trampling on sand dune vegetation.

- Nurseries of sand dune vegetation will be set up along the stretches where vegetation had gotten extinct, which would enable replantation.

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 20th   October

  

“Red Light On, Gaadi Off' campaign

Implemented from 20th October 2020

Implemented in New Delhi

Enforced by Delhi Government

Objective:

- Decrease the level of air pollution in the region.

Highlights:

- Citizens are supposed to take part in the campaign by them to switch off their engines while waiting at red lights.

- Environment marshals have been deployed at over 100 traffic signals to make sure that the provisions of the campaign are duly followed.

- The campaign aims to create awareness among drivers about the necessity of switching the ignition off while waiting for the traffic to move.

 

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 19th   October

 

 Water Attache Program

Launched on 19th October 2020

Launched by Israel Embassy

 - Will work in association with the Jal Shakti Ministry 

Key Points:

- From January 2021, Israel Embassay will have a dedicated Water Attache. 

Program:

- To bring in Israel’s best practices and technologies to India for advancements in India's water management and agriculture sectors. 

Highlights:

- Israel will also nominate an honorary Consul in the North-East to increase its presence and collaboration in the region to increase value in their developmental sector.

- In January, Israel would nominate a ‘Water Attache’ who would join the ‘Agriculture Attache’ whois already functional.

- In tandem, they are expected to visit the centers of excellence for agriculture established as part of Indo-Israel collaboration and bring to India technology and systems in water management and agriculture.

- As many as 29 such centers of excellence have already been established across India and nearly 1.5 lakh farmers have been trained at these centers within just one year.

 

 

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 16th  October

 

The Human Cost of Disasters Report (2000-2019)

In news on October 16, 2020 

Published by The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) 

Highlights of the report:

- 7,348 major disaster events had occurred between 2000 and 2019, claiming 1.23 lives, affecting 4.2 billion people, and costing the global economy some $2.97 trillion.

- Of this, China and the US have reported the highest number of disaster events followed by India.

- Climate change is responsible for the doubling of natural disasters in the past 20 years says the report.

- There had also been a rapid rise in geophysical events such as earthquakes and tsunamis that are not related to climate but are particularly deadly. 

Additional Information:

- The UNDRR was established in 1999

- Implementation of the Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).

- It has the vision to act as the custodian of the Sendai Framework to which India is also a signatory.

 

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 14th  October 

 

Virtual third Assembly of ISA

Held on 14th October 2020 

Key Points:

- India and France have been elected again as the President and Co-President for a term of two years

- Institutionalizing ISA’s engagement with the private and public corporate sector through the Coalition for Sustainable Climate Action (CSCA), was agreed upon in the assembly.

- Based on their contribution and performance, Solar awards were conferred on countries as well as institutions.

- The Visvesvaraya award recognizing the countries with a maximum floating solar capacity in each of the four regions of ISA,  they are:

- Asia Pacific Region.

- Africa Region.

- Europe and other Region.

- Latin America and Caribbean Region.

- The Kalpana Chawla award is conferred for the exemplary contribution of the scientists and engineers working in the field of solar energy .

- The Diwakar award is awarded to organizations and institutions that have been working for the benefit of differently-abled people and have maximized the use of solar energy in the host country.

- The report compiled by the World Resources Institute (WRI) was presented. WRI recognizes the source of funds, opportunities, and constraints, in scaling up solar investments and the contribution of ISA in assisting Member countries.

- The ISA shall collaborate with WRI to develop a roadmap for mobilization of USD 1 trillion by 2030.

- In the backdrop of the global pandemic , ISA responded by setting up ISA CARES (like PM-CARES in India), an initiative dedicated to the deployment of solar energy in the healthcare sector.

- The initiative has the objective to solarize or provide solar infrastructure and empower at least one primary health sector in each district of the target member countries.

- The seventh Programme on Solarising Heating and Cooling systems has been launched bt the ISA Secretariat.

- The demand for cooling was far more than solar deployment in 2017, and Heating and cooling systems have the scope of directly convert solar radiation and at higher efficiency levels.

- Technical assistance from SAARC Development Fund and the ISA is proposed to be implemented jointly with the Asian Development Bank .

- The ISA has entered into a tripartite agreement with the World Bank and the Government of India to realize its vision and implementation plan for the ‘One Sun, One World, One Grid ’ initiative, to harness and utilize the power of interconnected grids for enabling energy transition to a low-carbon world. 

India’s centric highlights:

- The President of the ISA Assembly,

- India appreciated the Alliance Members coming together to work for combating climate change and the development of a pipeline of more than USD 5 billion, aggregated demand for more than 270,000 solar pumps across 22 countries, etc. 

France’s Role:

- For financing solar projects in ISA member states up until 2022.,France has committed to invest 1.5 billion Euros.

- SRMI is expected to play a major role in mobilizing billions in private investment to finance more than 10 GWs of solar projects, The first project being launched in Mozambique with the support of France and the European Union (EU).

- The French National Institute for Solar Energy (INES) will launch a specific program for the small island states of the Pacific under the framework of the ISA’s Solar Technology Application Resource Centre (Star-C) program.

 

 

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 13th  October

 

 Pernod Ricard India Foundation and WWF announced a partnership

Announced on 13th October 2020 

Aim:

- To ensure a better future for wild elephants in Assam.

- Through effective prevention of human-elephant conflict management. 

Key Point:

- Onboarding about 150 villages from the districts of Kamrup, Sonitpur, Biswanath, and Nagaon

- Train the community members on effective situation management

- This will be done by developing a toolkit and forming anti-depredation squads,

- This will help them also protect their property, crops, and lives.

 The State of Climate Services 2020 Report

In news 13th October 2020 

Released on :

The occasion of International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction UN World. 

Released by:

Meteorological Organization (WMO). 

Prepared by:

16 international agencies 

Highlights:

- In the last 5 decades, over 11,000 disasters have been caused due to weather, climate, and water-related hazards, involving about 2 million deaths and US$ 3.6 trillion in economic losses.

- This report constitutes 16 different case studies on various aspects like successful early warning systems for climate hazards including tropical cyclones and hurricanes, floods, droughts, heatwaves, forest fires, sand and desert locusts, dust storms, severe winters, and glacial lake outbursts.

- Around 108 million people needed help from the international humanitarian system because of natural disasters.

- By 2030 the number of people using the international humanitarian system

could be increased by 50% at a cost of around US$ 20 billion a year.

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 11th  October

 

 A new species of perennial woody herb found

Found on 11th October 2020 

Location :

Ananthapura lake temple in Kasaragod 

Nomenclature:

Lepidagathis ananthapuramensis, dedicated to the famed temple Ananthapadmanabha. 

Highlight:

- New species of perennial woody herb

- Genus: Lepidagathis

- Plants of this species are locally called ‘Paramullu’

- Eight species of this genus and three varieties have been found in Kerala, of which four are endemic to the Western Ghats. 

Description:

- An erect woody herb

- Grows to a height of 50-100 cm,

- Has a hairy and branched stem,

- Thick and woody rootstock

- Hairy leaf veins, and

- Flowers clustered on one side of the inflorescence.

 

 

 Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 10th  October 

 

The World Migratory Bird Day

Celebrated on October 10th 

Organized by:

- Wildlife treaties administered by the UNEP

- African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement

- Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. 

Highlights:

- Celebrated twice a year

- On the second Saturdays of May and October.

- Both days are celebrated under the same theme.

- This year, the theme was: Birds Connect Our World

- The idea of celebrating this day was designed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1993. 

Significance:

- It is an awareness-raising campaign for the protection and conservation of migratory birds.

- It was conceived in 2018. 

Additional Information:

Conservation of Migratory Species

- It is also called the Bonn convention.

- The convention text contains more than 173 migratory species from all across the world.

- Appendix 1 of the convention list: endangered or threatened migratory species.

- Appendix II to list the migratory species that are currently under unfavorable conservation status

- The COP 13 was held in India.

- It is proposed to include 10 new species under the Convention on the conservation of migratory species.

- It included three Indian species namely the Asian elephant, Great Indian Bustard, and the Bengal florican. 

 

 

 

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 7th  October 

 

World Cotton Day

Celebrated on 07 October 2020 

Key Points:

- It is observed around the world on 7th October since 2019.

- The day is observed to celebrate the many versatile benefits of cotton, ranging. 

History:

- The day was first observed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva

- WCD Day was initiated by the Group of Cotton constitution of 4 countries namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali.

- It is to highlight the importance of cotton as a global commodity.

 

 

My Ganga My Dolphin Campaign

Launched on 7th October 2020

Launched to commemorate Ganga River Dolphin Day 

Launched by :

- National Mission for Clean Ganga,

- Wildlife Institute of India

- Forest Department. 

Highlights:

- The campaign has been launched for sustainable tourism.

- It connects livelihood through Dolphin Conservation for ecotourism with the Ganga river.

- The campaign has been launched in the 250 km stretch of the river.

- Will also conduct a census under the stretch. 

Additional Information:

Dolphin Safari

- Dolphin-based ecotourism program

- Dolphin Safari was started in six sites in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal.

- Trained volunteers, being called Ganga Praharis, will take the tourists on the boat for the Dolphin safari. 

Ganga River Dolphin Day

- The Ganga River Dolphin Day is observed on the 5 since 2010.

- The day is celebrated because on October 5 Dolphins were declared as National Aquatic Animal. 

Project Dolphin

- Was launched in 2020 by the Prime Minister

- Was approved by National Ganga Council.

- This project is being implemented by the MoEFCC

- The aim is to conserve and protect dolphins in the marine and riverine ecosystems. 

Threats:

- The construction of dams 

Status Under:

- Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: First Schedule

- CITES: Appendix I

- CMS: Appendix II

- IUCN red list: Endangered 

Dolphin census:

In India, there are about 2,500 – 3,000 Gangetic Dolphins

 

 

India's first animal bridges or animal overpasses

7th October 2020 

Highlight:

- The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will host India's very first animal bridges to maintain the wildlife in their pristine state.

- An area of Ranthambore Wildlife Corridor lies in the proposed expressway connecting Mukundra and Ranthambhore Wildlife Sanctuaries. 

Details:

- This expressway is currently under construction and is 1,250km long.

- On completion, it will connect the nation’s National capital with its Commercial Capital

- The Vadodara Mumbai Expressway has also been subsumed into Delhi-Mumbai Expressway.

- The total cost of the project is estimated to be about Rs 1 lakh crore.

- The expressway passes through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra

- It will be an 8-lane expressway having 4 lanes in each direction.

- The expressway is expected to reduce the travel time by 12 hours

- The foundation stone was laid by in 2019, March

- The expected time of completion of the project is 2022 in 51 packages.

- The expressway is designed to have 5 animal overpasses with a combined length of more than 2.5 km.

- The animals will get a passage at every 500-meter interval. It will also have a boundary wall of 8 meters with a sound barrier of 3-4 meters in the corridor. 

Animal Bridge

- An animal bridge or wildlife crossing is a structure allowing animals to cross man-made barriers safely.

- The crossings include underpass tunnels, overpasses, etc.

- Trees are also incorporated to keep the corridor as close to nature as possible.

 

New Bony fish discovered in the Western Ghats

In News on 07 October 2020 

Discovered by Scientists from

       - India,

       - Germany,

       - The United Kingdom,

       - and Switzerland 

Discovered in :

The Western Ghats 

Nomenclature:

It has been named : Aenigmachannidae. 

Details:

- Detailed studies on its skeleton and genetic assembly is being conducted

- Members of Aenigmachannidae are “living fossils”

- Comprise an ancient Gondwanan lineage of about about 100 million years ago. 

 

 

Current Affairs – Environment & Biodiversity 5th  October

 

World Habitat Day 2020

Celebrated on 5 October 

Details:

- The UN has dedicated the first Monday of October every year to be celebrated as World Habitat Day.

- This day is celebrated annually worldwide to contemplate the condition of our towns and cities and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter.

- This day is to remind the world that we all have the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns. 

The theme for 2020:

Housing For All — A Better Urban Future 

History:

The very first World Habitat Day was celebrated in 1986 and its theme being “Shelter is My Right”.

 

 

Two new species of pipeworts have been discovered in the Western Ghats

In news on 5th October 2020

Discovered by Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute, Pune

Discovered in Western Ghats of Maharashtra & Karnataka. 

Nomenclature:

- The species from Maharashtra: Eriocaulon parvicephalum has been named so owing to its distinct minute inflorescence size

- The species found in Karnataka: Eriocaulon karaavalenseas as an indication to the Karaavali coastal region. 

Additional information:

- Pipeworts are a kind of wetland plant.

- Belonging to the genus Eriocaulon.

- Some pipeworts have medicinal values like anti-bacteria, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancerous properties.

- About 111 species of pipeworts are found in India, mostly endemic to the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas.

- The newly-discovered species manifest different floral characters than the previously known species.

- DNA barcoding of this species would be used to understand the evolution of this genus in India. 

 

 

Wildlife Week

Celebrated from 2nd to 8th October 

Aim:

- To protect and preserve the wildlife of India. 

Background:

- The first Wildlife Week was observed in 1957.

- Wildlife Week 2020 celebrates the 66th Wildlife Week which is being celebrated under the theme RoaR (Roar and Revive) – Exploring Human-Animal Relationships. 

Additional Information: 

History of Wildlife Week:

- The Indian Board of Wildlife was constituted

- The idea of Wildlife Week was conceived in 1952

- To raise awareness about the long term goals of protecting the wildlife of India.

- Initially, in 1955 the Wildlife day was celebrated

- This was later upgraded as the Wildlife Week in 1957.