National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-2031

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India has the largest participation of people living in the forests towards conservation efforts. National Wildlife Action Plan has been made landscape-based, rather than sanctuary, or national park-based.

Two documents – India’s National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP) for the period 2017-2031 and Secure Himalaya were released.

India unveiled the third National Wildlife Action Plan for 2017-2031 spelling out the future road map for wildlife conservation.

The third action plan comes after the first plan in 1983 and second from 2002 till 2016.

The third National Wildlife Action Plan is unique as this is the first time India has recognised the concerns relating to climate change impact on wildlife and stressed on integrating actions that need to be taken for its mitigation and adaptation into wildlife management planning processes.

The plan was unveiled by environment minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on the inaugural day of the Global Wildlife Programme (GWP) conference. The GWP, initiated in 2015, is a World-Bank led partnership of 19 countries to promote the conservation and sustainable development by combating trafficking in wildlife.

The plan was initiated in February 2016 by environment ministry. This plan was drafted by a 12-member committee chaired by JC Kala, a former secretary to the ministry. The plan adopts a “landscape approach” in conservation of all wildlife – uncultivated flora and fauna – that have an ecological value to the ecosystem and to mankind irrespective of where they occur. It gives special emphasis to recovery of threatened species of wildlife while conserving their habitats.

The government has also underlined an increased role of private sector in wildlife conservation. The plan lays down that the Centre would ensure that adequate and sustained funding including Corporate Social Responsibility funds are made available for the National Wildlife Action Plan implementation.

The Plan focuses on preservation of genetic diversity and sustainable development. The NWAP has five components, 17 themes, 103 conservation actions and 250 projects.

The five components are – strengthening and promoting the integrated management of wildlife and their habitats; adaptation to climate change and promoting integrated sustainable management of aquatic biodiversity in India; promoting eco-tourism, nature education and participatory management; strengthening wildlife research and monitoring of development of human resources in wildlife conservation and enabling policies and resources for conservation of wildlife in India.

The Plan will help to mainstream wildlife conservation in development planning processes.

The Minister also launched the India Wildlife Mobile App to mark the occasion.

Highlights of the National Wild Life Action Plan 2017-31:

The Plan is based on the premise that essential ecological processes that are governed, supported or strongly moderated by ecosystems, are essential for food production, health and other aspects of human survival and sustainable development. And maintenance of these ecosystems which can be termed as ‘Life Support Systems’ is vital for all societies regardless of their stage of development.

It also emphasizes on other two aspects of living resource conservation viz. preservation of genetic diversity and sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems which has direct bearing on our scientific advancements and support to millions of rural communities.

The Plan adopts landscape approach in conservation of all uncultivated flora and undomesticated fauna that has ecological value to mankind irrespective of where they occur.

It accords special emphasis to rehabilitation of threatened species of wildlife while conserving their habitats which include inland aquatic, coastal and marine eco-systems.

It also takes note of concerns relating to climate change on wildlife by integrating it in to wildlife management Planning.

It underlines the fact that despite being one of 12 mega biodiversity countries of the world, national planning has not taken serious note of adverse ecological consequences of reduction and degradation of wilderness areas from the pressures of population, commercialization and development projects. Accordingly, the plan has brought to focus the alarming erosion of our natural heritage comprising of rivers, forests, grasslands, mountains, wetlands, coastal and marine habitats arid lands and deserts

The plan underscores the increasing need for people’s support for conservation of wildlife and to this effect recommends strengthening the ‘core buffer multiple use surround’ structure with higher inputs for eco-development, education, innovation, training, extension, conservation awareness and outreach programs.

Wildlife health is yet another area which receives attention in this Plan.

Management of tourism in wildlife areas with related plough back mechanism, development of Human resource and Staff welfare has undergone reorientation in the Plan.

The plan is alive to communities, inhabiting forest lands and other wilderness areas, to be treated appropriately in the light of Forest Rights Act and their inadequacy of resources and strong dependence on natural biomass resource.

The plan takes note of and addresses rising human animal conflict owing to shrinkage, fragmentation and deterioration of habitats generating animosity against wild animals and protected areas.

National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-31: Recommended Actions

STRENGTHENING AND IMPROVING THE PROTECTED AREA NETWORK

Considering the inadequacy of the PA network in certain biogeographic zones; challenges of meeting the biomass needs of poor people; and need for much more effective and interactive monitoring of the PA network, the following actions and projects are recommended for the next NWAP (2017-2031):

Undertake periodic review of the status of Protected Areas in India.

Expedite the process of settlement of rights in the existing or proposed PAs.

Enhance the PA network by including terrestrial, inland water and coastal/marine areas of high conservation values and by integrating PAs into wider landscapes and seascapes as per the Target 11 of the NBAP.

Complete the process of rationalisation and demarcation of boundaries and zonation for effective management of PAs.

Prepare Integrated and Adaptive Management Plans for all the PAs.

Promote use of modern tools for monitoring and surveillance of highly sensitive PAs.

Assess, monitor and manage the alien invasive species inside PAs and TRs

Secure wildlife corridors and also draw appropriate plans for their management.

Improve the capacity of frontline staff for better monitoring and management of PAs.

Involve local communities in protection and management of PAs.

LANDSCAPE LEVEL APPROACH FOR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

To identify the present status of all wildlife species in the country.

To lay special emphasis on species that are endemic or endangered and in need of conservation through special recovery projects.

To identify and implement landscape level conservation projects using flagship species concepts.

To identify critical areas outside protected areas for wildlife conservation and initiate projects.

To undertake a programme of ex situ captive breeding and rehabilitation in the wild for critically endangered species in accordance with IUCN guidelines, after developing requisite techniques and capabilities in this regard.

To publish flora and fauna species status papers periodically, which should be translated into local languages.

To initiate work on contemporary threats such as climate change and also focus on ecosystems such as marine, wetland, island, montane and arid zones.

Corridors for large mammals need to be secured. Elephant and tiger corridors across the country have been identified in several reports of the MOEFCC. On ground demarcation of those corridors, and restricted land use change need to be in place for those areas.

A strategy to be developed for managing free ranging domestic animals such as dogs, cats etc in and around wildlife habitats. There have been reports of dogs killing threatened species like black necked crane (nest attacks), red panda and blue sheep in the Himalayas. Dogs have also been reported to act as carrier of Canine Distemper Virus in plains, wherein wild carnivores like tigers and leopards have the chance of getting exposed to this disease outbreak. Further, dogs are known to predate sea turtles eggs and similarly cats that are known to predate eggs of ground nesting birds. Appropriate multi-agency strategy needs to be adopted to check the population of these free ranging animals and regular vaccination needs to be carried out for domestic dogs to prevent them from being a carrier of Canine Distemper Virus.

The country has successfully translocated tiger, gaur, swamp deer, sambar, chital, gharial. Therefore, species specific protocols may be developed so that all the states can follow it. Monitoring protocols for the translocated species may also be developed.

Illegal wildlife trade threatens many flagship species in India. The list of lesser known species found in illegal trade is also growing each day. Curbing of illegal trade of the flora and fauna may be included with projects on recording the status of the species in illegal trade and reviewing policies and institutional framework to ensure that illegal trade is minimised.

Arrest further escalation of already present negative interactions by ensuring that all development projects, in key wildlife habitats, do not turn out to be drivers of conflict, in future.

REHABILITATION OF THREATENED SPECIES

Identify endangered and critically endangered species of flora and fauna, conduct status surveys and prepare species recovery plans in a time bound manner.

Expedite implementation of species recovery plans prepared during the NWAP (2002-2016), and prepare such plans for other priority species.

Develop capacity for ex-situ conservation and multiplication of threatened taxa.

Prepare a comprehensive plan for conservation of endangered / critically endangered plants and establish more MPCAs / MPDAs / Botanical Gardens in different parts of country.

Identify critical habitats for threatened species of flora and fauna outside PA network and prepare their restoration / recovery plans involving local community institutions.

 CONSERVATION OF INLAND AQUATIC

In addition to those wetlands already under the network of PAs, each State/UT needs to identify new wetlands of biological/ecological significance. Complete management plans for all PAs with process for regular revision once the tenure of a plan is completed.

Management plans need to include measures concerning Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

Management of inland wetlands should be included in the professional training curricula of all training institutions—IGNFA, CASFOS, colleges for training Range officers and all those for training other ranks.

Forest Officers to be empowered under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 (EPA-1986).

Convergence of inter-agency/department cogent programmes including knowledge, skills, manpower and finances need to be ensured to forge partnerships for addressing issues relating to inland wetlands.

CONSERVATION OF COASTAL AND MARINE ECOSYSTEMS

Strengthen the coastal and marine protected area network and its management in the country and to establish new PAs to protect the range of biodiversity in coastal and marine ecosystems in participatory mode.

SFDs are significant players in conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems. The training institutions for professionals at all levels of responsibilities therefore need to tailor the training curricula to meet management needs of such ecosystems.

Restoration of the fragile marine and coastal habitats is necessary

Ascertain the extent of implementation of the CRZ Notification 2011 in context of at least the ‘Areas of Concern (AC)’ as would be referred to in the subsection titled priority projects. The gaps need to be followed up for completion with the concerned agencies. Forest Officers to be empowered under the Section 19 of the Environment Protection Act 1986 to take cognizance of violations for enforcement.

Complete Management Plans of CMPAs at the earliest.

Convergence of inter-agency/department cogent programmes including knowledge, skills, manpower and finances needs to be ensured to forge partnerships for addressing issues relating to coastal and marine ecosystems.

INTEGRATING CLIMATE CHANGE IN WILDLIFE PLANNING

Climate specific research is essential. This may include assessment of change in species distribution-vegetation including sea grass meadows, ascertaining possible change in marine species form fish landings etc.; change in population sizes, reproduction/phenology, movement patterns, diseases and their frequency

The EIA process needs to integrate the issues concerning CCA and DRR. How a project relates to specific risks those can be derived from collection and collation of data on hazards; integration of relief and rehabilitation and climate proofing

It is essential to understand the relevant policies, laws and international treaties because departments normally do not go beyond what concern their own mandates. All laws and regulations pertaining to development are very important and it is necessary to understand their objectives and important provisions in connection with climate change.

Developing a common action plan integrating CCA and DRR with shared responsibility into all sectors is crucial. The state coastal zone management plan required to be prepared under CRZ provisions would pave the way for such synergy. Involving local communities with regard to their knowledge and capacities

Management plans for CMPAs need to suitably integrate CCA and DRR.

Rationalize the boundaries of Protected Area in connection with climate change.

Ensure the anticipatory planting along ecological gradients with respect to climate change.

Promote the assisted migration of wildlife.

Undertake research on animal responses to climate change, use of pesticides, emerging zoonotic diseases, invasive species and the threats of hybridisation so that appropriate adaptation plans are drawn for species and areas.

Review the existing Biogeography Report of WII with respect to climate change and planning for PA Networks.

Review the WII’s Management Planning Guidelines of PAs with respect to climate change adaptation.

CONTROL OF POACHING AND ILLEGAL TRADE IN WILDLIFE

Increase ability of frontline field staff to protect wildlife through capacity building and proper equipping to increase focused crime prevention, patrolling and reporting.

Set up Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) in TRs.

Use modern technology for patrolling, crime data management, intelligence gathering and surveillance.

Conduct assessment of the protection measures undertaken by PAs to improve protection standards for wildlife, and to build capacity of frontline staff across the country.

Organize audit of protection mechanisms for enhancing efficiency.

Set up of Regional Forensic Labs to assist in speedy crime investigation.

Establish special courts for wildlife crime related cases.

Orient and involve the customs, police, paramilitary, coastguard, postal and courier services and other agencies that can play a key regulatory role in preventing wildlife offences.

Enhance the capacity of all concerned enforcement agencies in India to efficiently implement both national and international laws and policies including that of CITES.

Take policy, legal and administrative measures.

Promote international cooperation to combat organized wildlife control.

WILDLIFE HEALTH

Initiate research on the ecology of diseases that affect free ranging wildlife—including emerging wildlife diseases of both zoonotic and non-zoonotic importance.

Ensure that wildlife translocations, particularly those involving primates from urban environments, are based on veterinary considerations and not done indiscriminately as it could impact animals at the target site due to transfer of diseases endemic to urban settings.

Establish and strengthen centres for wildlife rehabilitation and disease surveillance in and around PAs. These centres should not only monitor the prevalence and spread of infectious diseases among wildlife but also focus on predicting the emergences of new diseases.

Develop facilities for rescue and rehabilitation of displaced wild animals and wildlife orphans by setting up mobile units and utilising the services of the newly established wildlife rehabilitation centres.

Set up an immune (infectious disease-free) belt around PAs and other sensitive wildlife areas by vaccinating livestock in the surrounding areas against infectious diseases posing threat to wildlife.

Commission a national programme to bring both human and animal health sectors in the country together in accordance with the modern paradigm of ‘One World One Health’

MITIGATION OF HUMAN-WILDLIFE CONFLICT

Identify and document the wide range of wildlife species that regularly come into conflict with humans, and prioritise the species that cause maximum damage to humans and are most adversely impacted due to conflict. Develop a national level database to document frequencies of conflicts, quantum of damage to human life and property and wildlife deaths due to conflict.

Draw up comprehensive, species and region specific, conflict-mitigation plans that can cater to prevention of HWC situations and reduce the adverse impacts on both humans and wildlife. These should focus primarily on scientific management of wildlife populations as well as land-use practices that aid and abet HWC.

Constitute a well-trained and adequately equipped workforce in the State Forest Departments (SFDs) to actively address HWC situations in situ, especially those involving dangerous large mammals.

Arrest further escalation of already present negative interactions by ensuring that all development projects, in key wildlife habitats, do not turn out to be drivers of conflict, in future.

Create a Centre of Excellence (CoE) on HWC mitigation, under the aegis of the MoEFCC, to address, develop and implement long-term and short-term measures to reduce the adverse impacts of HWC.

Formulate and implement extensive education and awareness programmes to reduce the growing animosity among people towards wild animals involved in conflict situations, as well as to enlist their help in mitigating HWC.

Encourage community participation in the HWC mitigation.

MANAGEMENT OF TOURISM IN WILDLIFE AREAS

An integrated guidelines for tourism as principles for preparation of eco-tourism plans for protected areas inside PAs to be framed by the MoEFCC and should be implemented to ensure sustainable ecotourism.

Standards and guidelines should be developed to prevent damage to wildlife and habitats, in particular to forest and mountain vegetation, coral beds.

Rules and regulations for visitor conduct should be framed and widely circulated to tourists and tourist agencies as well as prominently displayed on notice boards.

Measures should be taken for strengthening the capacity of the local communities and the tourism agencies for managing responsible tourism.

Measures should be taken for ploughing back a part of the income generated from wildlife tourism for management of PAs including eco-development communities of the local communities.

PEOPLE’S PARTICIPATION IN WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

It is necessary to plan activities in the light of the experience gained during the earlier NWAPs. There is some unfinished agenda from the NWAP (2002-16) which need to be continued. The PESA-1996 and FRA-2006 seek to bestow various rights on the local people over PAs and general forests and the potential conflict of these right-holders with the SFDs can only be averted by making them a partner in the official programme for wildlife conservation. A substantial part of natural habitats in the country is outside the administrative control of the SFDs and the owners / managers of such habitats should be brought into the mainstream of wildlife conservation. Keeping the aforesaid factors in view, the following actions have been identified under the NWAP (2017-31):

Consolidate and improve upon the achievements made towards ensuring people’s support and participation in wildlife conservation during the earlier NWAPs.

Attempts should be made for reviving, strengthening and expanding the existing institutions like the JFMCs, FDAs, Village Forests and Vana Panchayats which provide a convenient platform for the SFDs to seek public co-operation. The existing mandate of these institutions is generally confined to forestry activities and there is a scope for extending the same to conservation and management of wildlife.

The WPA-1972 envisages establishment of Advisory Committees for Sanctuaries (S.33B) and Management Committees for Conservation Reserves (S.36B) and Community Reserves (S.36D) for ensuring public participation in management of PAs. But the prescribed Committees are yet to be set up in a large number of PAs.

4(1)(bb) of the WPA-1972 also envisages appointment of Honorary Wildlife Wardens (HWLW). The Act does not bar appointment of more than one HWLW in a district. Therefore, the State Governments should appoint adequate number of HWLWs in each district—particularly for each sensitive wildlife zone in non-forest areas (e.g. villages / blocks suffering from acute HWC; important wildlife corridors; wetlands; etc.). The HWLWs should be selected keeping in view their acceptability among the local community; their commitment towards wildlife conservation; their potential to help the forest staff in the field, particularly in controlling crowds.

A large number of wildlife habitats in the country, including wetlands and wildlife corridors, are under the control of the Autonomous Councils, tribal communities, private entities and government agencies other than the SFDs. It is advisable to formally recognise the owners / managers of such habitats as wildlife managers.

Address the factors which adversely impact public support and attitude towards wildlife conservation.

Long delays in settlement of rights and payment of compensation to the right-holders in PAs have been recognised as a major source of alienation of the local people from wildlife conservation. In many cases in the past, the PA boundaries were fixed rather irrationally so as to include human-habitations and crop-lands having no direct value for wildlife and, thus, causing harassment of the local people.

The FRA-2006 provides a fresh opportunity for identifying and recognising genuine rights of the tribal people and other traditional forest dwellers over PAs and other forest areas. Sections 2(b) and 4(2) of the FRA-2006 also provide for identification of Critical Wildlife Habitats (CWH) within PAs over which forest rights may be modified or resettled. Delays in determination of rights and CWH lead to bitter relationship between the local people and the SFDs.

Advantage should be taken of S.5 of the FRA-2006 which empowers the forest right-holders and Gram Sabha to protect wildlife and biodiversity.

The SFDs should take advantage of such stipulations of the WPA-1972 as facilitate accommodation of the genuine needs of the local people within PAs. Such enabling sections include: S.33(d); S.26A (1) (proviso) read with S.35(1) (proviso); S.26A (2) read with S.35(1) (proviso); S.18A (2); and S.29 (proviso) read with S.35(6) (proviso).

Constant conflict with the wild animals along with inadequacy of mitigation measures and compensatory mechanism further accentuates the alienation of local people from wildlife conservation. It is necessary to put in place effective measures for mitigation of HWC as well as judicious and timely payment of ex-gratia relief to the affected people. It is also advisable to involve the affected people in planning and implementing mitigation strategies, particularly in setting up Local Wildlife Squads / Primary Response Teams (PRTs) and construction / maintenance of barriers and fences. There is a need for recognising and encouraging indigenous knowledge for dealing with HWC. There is also a need for promoting such lifestyles and practices as enhance people’s tolerance for and ensure peaceful co-existence with wild animals.

People, in general, are also sceptical of the PAs for fear of displacement from their homes and crop-lands. A number of villages have been shifted out of PAs, particularly TRs, since the 1970s either for fulfilling the legal requirements of a National Park or for reducing anthropogenic pressure from the core area of TRs. Relocation of villages from PAs is also sometimes justified on the ground that it will save the people from HWC and facilitate their access to developmental activities. But forcible relocations or poorly executed resettlement projects have only resulted in the ill-will of the affected people towards wildlife conservation. In some cases the relocation projects have failed and the concerned people have returned to the original sites. The whole gamut of relocation of villages needs a serious review.

Revive, extend and sustain people’s stake in wildlife conservation with due regard to relevant laws and without compromising with the scientific basis for conservation.

People must have a stake in wildlife conservation as a motivation for supporting and participating in the government-run conservation programmes. The most important stake of the local people is the benefit directly accruing to them in the form of products of daily needs from PAs, forests and other conservation areas (e.g. wetlands). JFMCs, Village Forests and Vana Panchayats provide an opportunity for sharing usufructs from forests and PAs with the local people.

It is also necessary to help people develop intellectual or sentimental stakes in wildlife conservation through awareness and outreach programmes.

Eco-development has been used during the earlier NWAPs as an effective tool for building local people’s stake in PAs and it should be continued during the current NWAP with necessary improvements. The WII has prepared a manual for preparation of Eco-development Projects (EDPs). Many lessons have also been learnt in the past while executing EDPs in various States, in particular the projects sponsored by the World Bank and other international funding agencies, and these lessons should be put to use while planning and executing new projects. For example: EDP should not be confined to TRs, NPs and WLS but also extended to other important Conservation Areas, such as Conservation and Community Reserves, Biodiversity Heritage Sites, Elephant Reserves, important wetlands, recognised wildlife corridors, etc.

EDP should be implemented in collaboration with the people’s institutions like JFMCs, FDAs, Village Forests, Vana Panchayats, Gram Sabhas and Local Bodies, based on a written agreement spelling out the role, duties and obligations of the SFD and the selected institution.

EDP should be based on micro-plans prepared jointly by the SFD and the selected institution through Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) techniques. Necessary technical support for micro-planning can be obtained from suitable NGOs and scientific institutes.

The micro-plans should be based on Conservation Area Mutual Impact Assessment (CAMIA), i.e. assessment of the positive and negative impacts of the Conservation Area on the people and vice versa. The objective of the EDP should be to maximise the positive impacts and minimise the negative impacts.

The activities selected through micro-plans should be subjected to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) with the help of suitable NGOs and Scientific Institutes. It must be ensured that the benefits of the EDP are not usurped by the dominant sections of the society. The specific interests of the women should be accommodated in the EDP. Attention should also be paid to rehabilitation of communities having propensity for indulging in forest and wildlife crimes.

Priority should be given to creation of community assets which can generate income and livelihood opportunities on sustained basis. Self-Help Groups (SHGs) should be given priority over individuals.

The beneficiaries should also be encouraged to contribute a part of the expenditure in cash, kind or labour to inculcate in them a sense of belonging to the assets created. In particular, the selected institution should be encouraged to set up a development fund out of the income derived by its members from the Conservation Area or from the assets created through the EDP so as to ensure maintenance and growth of such assets.

There should be a mechanism for joint monitoring and evaluation of the EDP by the SFD and the selected institution as well as for resolution of conflict, if any.

Eco-tourism provides yet another opportunity for the people to have a stake in wildlife conservation. The National Tourism Policy-2002 stipulates that eco-tourism should help in eliminating poverty, in ending unemployment, in creating new skills, in enhancing the status of woman, in preserving cultural heritage, in encouraging tribal and local craft, and in improving overall environment and facilitating growth of a more just and fair social order. However, in practice, most of the benefits of eco-tourism are usurped by the private tourism operators and resort-owners, and the role of the local people is confined to merely serving as guides, cooks or porters. There is a great scope for increasing the participation of JFMCs, FDAs, Village Forests, Vana Panchayats and Local Bodies in management of eco-tourism in PAs and other Conservation Areas and for ploughing back a part of the income generated from eco-tourism into EDP in the region.

The employment opportunities provided by the SFDs also serve as an incentive for the local people to participate in wildlife conservation. A great amount of traditional knowledge and skills useful for forest and wildlife management exists among the tribal communities, which needs to be identified and harnessed by the SFDs.

Build up capacity of the wildlife managers as well the local people to work together for wildlife conservation.

It is necessary to build up the capacity of the officers and staff of the SFDs and Autonomous Councils; functionaries and members of JFMCs, FDAs, Forest Villages, Vana Panchayats, Gram Sabhas and Local Bodies; HWLWs; forest right-holders and other stakeholders to work together for wildlife conservation through formal training courses and informal orientation/sensitisation programmes.

CONSERVATION AWARENESS AND OUTREACH

Keeping in view the experience gained through the previous NWAPs and challenges of the emerging scenario of wildlife management in the country, the following actions have been identified under the NWAP (2017-31):

Develop and promote infrastructure and capacity for Conservation Education, Nature Interpretation and Outreach (CENIO) in the country.

Continue, improve and expand formal environmental education programme in schools.

Improve and expand facilities for informal environmental education in the country.

Continue, improve and expand use of media and technology for carrying out CENIO in the country.

DEVELOPMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES

Review and strengthen the existing mechanisms for recruitment, training and career development of wildlife managers and to strengthen and sustain a professional wildlife cadre.

Give thrust on the current and fresh capacity building efforts, with a special focus on WII, shall need to sharply focus upon the scientific and human aspects of the present requirements of field conservation.

Undertake awareness programmes for personnel of other departments/services whose work has a bearing upon forest and wildlife conservation.

Strengthen and establish wildlife training centres or State Forest Research Institutes at the State level for training frontline staff including those posted in PAs.

Providing exclusive capacity building programmes for the management of Coastal, Marine and other wetland PAs.

Enhance the welfare of the frontline staff and their families.

As suggested   in   Chapter   XI   (People’s   Participation   in   Wildlife Conservation), action is required to build up capacity of the wildlife managers as well the local people to work together for wildlife conservation.

As suggested in Chapter XII (Conservation Awareness and Outreach), action is required to build up capacity of forest officers of various ranks— particularly those working in TRs, PAs and Autonomous Councils; faculty members of State Forestry Training Centres; education officers of zoos; and candidates interested to serve as nature guides in zoos, PAs and NICs in Conservation Education, Nature Interpretation and Outreach (CENIO) techniques.

 STRENGTHENING RESEARCH AND MONITORING

The National Wildlife Research Coordination Committee (NWRCC), visualized for the 2nd NWAP period, needs to be constituted with the revised mandate of reviewing the research outputs, information gaps and prioritizing areas of further research. This committee may also suggest financial requirements for wildlife research in the country and review the existing guidelines (MoEF 2006) for conducting wildlife research through wider participation of scientists across various disciplines and scientific institutions in the country. There is a need to bring out regular update on the conservation status of endangered species and their habitats.

All States / UTs need to set up Wildlife Research Advisory Committees (WRACs) and come up with the priority areas of research – both basic and applied relevant for the state. The Research Wings of the State Forest Departments (SFDs) should set up baseline data on the land use land cover, vegetation types and commission ecological studies focussing on distribution of key faunal species, status of wildlife habitats, vegetation types, human ecology and other topics directly relevant to management of PAs.

Bring about reforms in the review process and improve transparency pertaining to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of developmental projects and land use changes in the country. Impact assessment approaches should be refined to capture ‘big picture’ of impacts from multiple projects and on a regional level and larger contiguous landscapes including wetlands and wildlife habitats. Sector level impact assessments must replace EIAs of projects in key sectors such as energy (specially hydro and nuclear power), mining, transportation and coastal development where strategic planning would be more relevant to avoid impacts and discourage efforts of patchwork mitigation of impacts of individual projects.

Develop institutional mechanism to monitor the populations of endangered species and their habitats in all biogeographic regions of the country. The new initiative by the MoEFCC on the Long Term Ecological Observations (LTEO; Anonymous 2015) should be linked with wildlife research and monitoring covering multiple sites and PAs.

IMPROVING COMPLIANCES WITH DOMESTIC LEGISLATIONS AND INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS

Review of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WPA-1972), and related laws is needed in order to provide for a clear and comprehensive way for not only conservation of wild life but also protection and regulations related to sustainable management and use. This should inter alia include review of schedules, legal provisions enabling wildlife managers to be associated with regional planning outside the PAs for pursuing landscape approach participation of the people.

Integration of important international conventions such as CITES, RAMSAR, CMS, CBD etc. with the existing wildlife and environmental Laws. India is party to several conventions and has also entered into MoUs with a number of countries on several other cross-border issues of conservation. The mechanism for advising the MoEFCC, NBWL or other statutory agencies on these issues may be strengthened by putting in place subject-specific technical groups of advisors. This will help in evolving science and knowledge-based national strategies and decisions on matters of global importance.

Harmonization of the wildlife and other related laws. Environmental laws are largely regulatory laws while the forest and wildlife laws cover not only regulations, but also provide for enabling environment for management of forest and wildlife areas. By and large environmental regulations have inherent arrangements for environmental appraisal of activities covered, and this includes impact on flora and fauna. The provisions are, therefore, to be seen as complementary to Forest and Wild Life laws. In such circumstances, mechanisms for regulations in the wildlife laws need to be factored into processes for environmental regulations.

ENSURING SUSTAINED FUNDING FOR WILDLIFE SECTOR

For developing justification for seeking adequate funds for conservation of forests and wild life, it is urgently needed to launch a robust economic analysis study programme with support of scientific facts highlighting the indispensability of the forest as the basic requirement for maintaining ecosystem services, in terms soil protection and regeneration, cleansing of water for food security, health and economic well-being of the country.

The valuable assets with potential of economic returns like PAs with tourism potential and those with high tourist pressure should be dealt on priority with the available funds so that eco tourism is optimized to achieve not only appropriate sensitization of public on natures contribution to economy, but also for sustaining the value of tourism for contribution to the management by plough back arrangements.

Further, as an approach to integrating the wildlife/ biodiversity conservation into the corporate economy, feasibility of participation of private sector in conservation needs to be explored. Possible areas in this can be integration of conservation oriented practices in the natural resource related corporate activities, investment in economically viable forest/ wildlife conservation actions expected to provide returns that might be already planned in government sector, corporate environmental responsibility and support for targeted conservation campaigns.

Scope of investment from extra budgetary sources like CAMPA fund, community development programmes, plough back of the entry fees to protected areas and zoos, sponsorship from the interested enthusiastic individuals/ organisations, corporate participation in management with appropriate cost benefit and safeguards be explored by working on policy and mechanisms for such investment streams.

INTEGRATING NATIONAL WILDLIFE ACTION PLAN WITH OTHER SECTORAL PROGRAMMES

The mandates of various ministries and other sectoral institutions, wherever relevant in context of NWAP, should be highlighted, pointed out and monitored at the national level. An appropriate mechanism for ensuring effective coordination among these mandates for the benefit of conservation needs to be set up in the MOEFCC.

Mainstreaming conservation concerns of biodiversity into sectoral strategies, plans and programmes particularly of the sectors dealing with natural resources would benefit both wildlife and human well-being.

Production sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, infrastructure, fossil fuel extraction industry, tourism etc. and the people depending on these sectors need to be involved in accounting for the impact on and of wildlife and redressal thereof, at the planning stage and integrating conservation action including sustainable use in their activities.

Regular consultations should be initiated with decision maker level stakeholder groups like Members of Parliament, State legislators, parliamentary and legislative committees, various Ministries, State Boards of Biodiversity, organisations like NHAI, Railways, Urban development organisations, defence organisations etc. on the economic importance of protecting and sustainably using, the forest and wild life resources and habitats. Similarly, briefing sessions should be held with Chief Ministers, Finance Ministers, Home Ministers and Agriculture Ministers of States/UTs.

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