Current Affairs of Ecology and Environment

Kerala to turn to Miyawaki method

Kerala is ready to embrace the Miyawaki method of Afforestation on the government office premises, residential complexes, school premises, and puramboke land in the state.

What is the Miyawaki method?

  • The Miyawaki method, developed by a Japanese botanist after whom it is named, involves planting saplings in small areas, causing them to “fight” for resources and grow nearly 10 times quicker.
  • It originated in Japan and is now increasingly adopted in other parts of the world, including Chennai.
  • It has revolutionized the concept of urban afforestation by turning backyards into mini-forests.
  • Green Credit Scheme

Recently Forest Advisory Committee has approved the implementation of the Green Credit scheme.

Features of the schemes

  • It allows “forests” to be traded as a commodity.
  • It allows the Forest Department to outsource one of its responsibilities of reforesting to non-government agencies.
  • The scheme allows agencies — they could be private companies, village forest communities — to identify land and begin growing plantations.
  •  After three years, they would be eligible to be considered as compensatory forest land if they met the Forest Department’s criteria.
  •  An industry needing forest land could then approach the agency and pay it for parcels of such forested land, and this would then be transferred to the Forest Department and be recorded as forest land.
  •  The participating agency will be free to trade its asset which is a plantation, in parcels with project proponents who need forest land.
  • Centre eases CRZ rules for ‘Blue Flag’ beaches

The Environment Ministry has relaxed Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules that restrict construction near beaches to help States construct infrastructure and enable them to receive ‘Blue Flag’ certification.

About Blue flag program

  • The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organization the Foundation for Environmental Education.
  • The ‘Blue Flag’ beach is an ‘eco-tourism model’ and marks out beaches as providing tourists and beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, a safe and healthy environment, and sustainable development of the area.
  • It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987 and in areas outside Europe since 2001 when South Africa joined.
  • Japan and South Korea are the only countries in South and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.
  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.

Beaches identified in India for blue flag certification

  • 13 pilot beaches such as Ghoghala Beach (Diu), Shivrajpur beach (Gujarat), Bhogave (Maharashtra), Padubidri and Kasarkod (Karnataka), Kappad beach (Kerala), etc. have been identified for the certification.
  • Chandrabhaga beach of Odisha’s Konark coast has completed the Blue Flag certification process.
  • Review of state and Central government water departments

The ministry of Jal Shakti has released a report on the review of state and Central government water departments.

About the report

  • In this report ranking has been done under the National Hydrology Project that aims to improve drought and flood management, creating a state-specific database on availability, plugging leakages in canals and dams and meteorological forecast on water resources information system.
  • The aim of the ranking is to have a water resources information system (WRIS) for all states to create a real-time integrated National Water Information Center (NWIC).
  • Gujarat has been ranked the best for parameters on efficiency targets and Delhi is among the worst-performing states.
  • Carbon Disclosure Project

The Carbon Disclosure Project India annual report has been released by CDP India. The report examines the carbon reduction activities of companies.

Key finding of the report

  • The United States of America secured the top spot followed by Japan, United Kindom, and France.
  • India is now among the top five countries globally when it comes to adopting science-based target initiatives (SBT) with as many as 38 Indian companies in 2019 committing to going beyond policy requirements to plan urgent climate action, a significant rise from 25 firms in 2018.
  • Among the key focus areas of Indian firms is renewable energy. According to the report, 23 companies reported renewable energy targets in 2019, a 44% rise over 2018. Of these, Infosys, Dalmia Cement, and Tata Motors have reported 100% RE consumption.
  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbons

India has successfully achieved the complete phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b, claims the ministry of environment, forest and climate change.

About HCFC- 141 b

• It is a chemical used by foam manufacturers.

 • It is used mainly as a blowing agent in the production of rigid polyurethane (PU) foams.

• It is one of the most potent ozone-depleting chemicals after Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

  • Biorock or mineral accretion technology

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), with help from Gujarat’s forest department, is attempting for the first time a process to restore coral reefs using bio rock or mineral accretion technology in the Gulf of Kachchh.

What is Biorock?

 It is the name given to the substance formed by electro accumulation of minerals dissolved in seawater on steel structures that are lowered onto the sea bed and are connected to a power source, in this case, solar panels that float on the surface.

The technology works by passing a small amount of electrical current through electrodes in the water.

How they form?

  • When a positively charged anode and negatively charged cathode are placed on the seafloor, with an electric current flowing between them, calcium ions combine with carbonate ions and adhere to the structure (cathode).
  • This results in calcium carbonate formation. Coral larvae adhere to the CaCO3 and grow quickly.
  • Fragments of broken corals are tied to the bio rock structure, where they are able to grow at least four to six times faster than their actual growth as they need not spend their energy in building their own calcium carbonate skeletons.
  • Cheetah reintroduction project

The Supreme Court has allowed the Centre to introduce the African cheetah to suitable habitat in India.

Cheetah reintroduction program in India

  • The Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun had prepared a ₹260-crore cheetah re-introduction project seven years ago.
  • Nauradehi in Madhya Pradesh was found to be the most suitable area for the cheetahs as its forests are not very dense to restrict the fast movement of the spotted cat. Besides, the prey base for cheetahs is also in abundance at the sanctuary.
  • Cheetahs would be translocated in India from Namibia.
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has given a ‘no objection’ for the translocation.
  • The country’s last spotted feline died in Chhattisgarh in 1947. Later, the cheetah — which is the fastest land animal — was declared extinct in India in 1952.
  •  The Asiatic cheetah is classified as a “critically endangered” species by the IUCN Red List and is believed to survive only in Iran.

About NTCA

 The National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. It was constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation.

  • Ramsar sites in India

India has added 10 more wetlands to sites protected by the Ramsar Convention. With this, 37 sites in the country have been recognized under the international treaty.

The 10 new wetlands added to the Ramsar convention are Nandur Madhameshwar in Maharashtra; Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve and Nangal in Punjab; Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and Sarsai Nawar in Uttar Pradesh.

About Ramsar convention

It is an international treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

 It is named after the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the Caspian Sea, where the treaty was signed on 2 February 1971. It came into force in 1975.

Montreux Record

 Montreux Record under the Convention is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.

Sites may be added to and removed from the Record only with the approval of the Contracting Parties in which they lie.

 Currently, two wetlands of India are in Montreux record- Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) and Loktak Lake (Manipur).

Bhitarkanika census on saltwater crocodiles

According to the Bhitarkanika census, there are now 1,757 crocodiles in the park. Census finds an increase of 15 saltwater crocodiles from last year.

About crocodiles

There are three species of crocodilians—saltwater, Mugger and Gharial.

1. Mugger– The mugger crocodile, also called the Indian crocodile or marsh crocodile is found throughout the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as vulnerable by IUCN. The mugger is mainly a freshwater species and found in lakes, rivers, and marshes.

2. Gharial: The Gharial or fish-eating crocodile is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN. Small released populations are present and increasing in the rivers of the National Chambal Sanctuary, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Son River Sanctuary and the rainforest biome of Mahanadi in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Orissa.

3. Saltwater Crocodile: It is the largest of all living reptiles. It listed as least concern by IUCN. It is found throughout the east coast of India.