Wildlife & Biodiversity

Global Eco Watch: Polar bears could become extinct by 2100, says study

Down To Earth brings you the top happenings in the world of global ecology

By DTE Staff
Published: Saturday 25 July 2020

Most polar bears will become extinct by the end of this century if global warming continues, a study published on July 20, 2020, said.

Polar bears hunt seals on sea ice. But as temperatures rise, hunting opportunities will decline for the animals. If they are unable to hunt and eat, they won’t be able to reproduce as a result.

If greenhouse gases are emitted at their current rate, only polar bears living in the Queen Elizabeth Islands in Canada’s Arctic Archipelago will remain by the end of the century.

But even if emissions are curbed, sea ice will continue to melt, leading to a decline in the polar bear population, the study said.

No tree census in Delhi in the past decade, RTI reveals

There has been no tree census in Delhi during 2010-2020. Also, no data is available on the number of trees in the New Delhi Municipal Council area from 2000-2020, the Delhi government said in response to an application filed by a city-based researcher under the Right to Information Act.

The Delhi Tree Authority, a statutory body set up under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1992 and tasked with carrying out tree censuses, in addition to preserving and monitoring trees, is largely defunct, the researcher was quoted as saying in a Times of India report.

The authority had met only thrice since 2013, the researcher further said.

Vietnam bans wildlife imports

Vietnam has banned all import of wildlife and wildlife products to reduce the risk of new pandemics, according to a BBC report.

An order signed by the country’s Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, was uploaded on the federal government’s website on July 23, 2020. It said that all citizens were to restrain from participating in illegal poaching, buying, selling and transporting wildlife.

The order also banned wildlife markets, including online ones.

Vietnam has been a popular destination for exotic wildlife for long. Animals, many of them from endangered species, are used either for making exotic cuisine or in traditional medicine.

Assam requests withdrawal of notification allowing pig movement 

Assam’s agriculture minister, Atul Bora, has written to Union Minister for Animal Husbandry and Dairy, Giriraj Singh, requesting the withdrawal of a notification that allows the movement of pigs from Punjab and Haryana to Assam.

The state’s pig population was reeling under the impact of African swine fever, Bora was quoted as saying in media reports. Any free movement of pigs from outside the state would seriously undermine all steps taken to control the spread of the disease, he added.

As many as 17,118 pigs have died so far due to African swine fever in 422 villages of the state, according to the state government.

India among top 10 countries gaining forest area in the world: FAO

India has ranked third among the top 10 countries that have gained in forest areas in the last decade, the latest Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) brought out by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has said.

The top 10 countries that have recorded the maximum average annual net gains in forest area during 2010-2020 are China, Australia, India, Chile, Vietnam, Turkey, the United States, France, Italy and Romania, according to the FRA 2020. India accounts for two per cent of total global forest area.

The Asian continent reported the highest net gain in forest area in 2010-2020, according to the report. It recorded 1.17 million hectares (ha) per year net increase in forests in the last decade.

However, the South Asia sub-region reported net forest losses during 1990-2020. But, this decline would have been much higher without the net gain in India’s forest during this period, according to FRA 2020.

During the decade under assessment, India reported 0.38 per cent annual gain in forest, or 266,000 ha of forest increase every year at an average. The FRA 2020 has credited the government’s Joint Forest Management programme for the significant increase in community-managed forest areas in the Asian continent.

Centre removes Bander coal mine from auction list but no decision on Chhattisgarh plea yet

The Union Ministry of Coal has removed the Bander coal mine in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra from the list of mines that are up for the auction under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.

Bander was a part of the Tadoba–Andhari Tiger Reserve, the ministry said in a withdrawal notice issued on July 21, 2020. This was according to the notification declaring the area as an ecologically sensitive zone issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

“Accordingly, the Ministry of Coal has decided to withdraw the Bander Coal Mine form the auction process under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015,” the withdrawal notice stated.

The Chhattisgarh government has been asking the Union government to remove five coal blocks from the Hasdeo area in the state for similar reasons. But there has been no development on this front so far.

Mohammad Akbar, in-charge of the department of forests and environment in the Chhattisgarh government had written a letter to the Centre on June 20.

He had requested the Centre to remove Morga South, Morga II, Madanpur (North), Sayang and Fatehpur East from the list of coal blocks going for auction in the first tranche of auctions under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957.

Akbar had written that the state government had decided to convert a 1,995 kilometre-area near the Hasdeo river as the Lemru Elephant Reserve due to increasing human-elephant conflict there.

Moreover, the five coal blocks mentioned by Akbar, lie in the catchment areas of the Hasdeo and Mand, two important rivers in the region.

The letter had argued that these five coal blocks should be removed from the auction process, citing these reasons.

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